The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed to eliminate quarantine regulations surrounding the swede midge, a pest of cruciferous crops, beginning April 1.

In a news release, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service blamed the insect's widespread occurrence for its actions.

"It is unlikely that swede midge can be eradicated from the North American continent," a news release said. "Regulating movement of host material using compliance agreements or other regulatory measures is impractical because the pest is difficult to detect until damage is evident and would create undue burden on the regulated industries."

That doesn't mean the pest is any less serious to growers whose fields it infests. It just means the USDA won't work to eradicate it.

Growers will still need to implement good management practices, such as crop rotation so that crucifers are grown one year out of four in a given field, post-harvest crop destruction so populations cannot build, cleaning equipment between fields, removal of cruciferous weeds along fence rows and packinghouse barriers to prevent the pest from spreading to non-infested regions.

Crucifers include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, radish and collards.

In young plants, feedingn by midges can prevent heads from forming. In older plants, it can cause crumpled heart leaves, brown scarring along the stems and stalks, and distorted stem and leaf stalks.

For more information, visit University of Massachusetts Extension.

The minute swede midge was first detected in the United States in Niagra County, N.Y., in September 2004.

It has since spread to other regions of New York, as well as Connecticut, New York, Vermont and parts of Canada.