Insect Pressure in G-Mac's Country

Aug 05, 2021

Written By: Jeremy German, Manager of Ag Innovation

In this edition of the Agronomy Den Newsletter, we would like to provide some insights on insect pressure that we have faced this year. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a drought in a large portion of the G-Mac's AgTeam trade area and with that has come some interesting pressure with insects. 

Flea Beetles
Wow, what a war we have had with Flea Beetles this past spring. Some areas did unfortunately lose the battle and had to reseed, but luckily with some quick reactions by our Agronomists and customers, we were able to navigate the windy conditions to take care of the early season pressure. One of the lessons learned was simply that Two Stripe Flea Beetles are one of the most persistent little black insects that impact our canola and mustard crops! They are aggressive, early season feeders and even extreme winds still had them chomping away at stems. Increased water volumes and timely applications (when Flea Beetles were up feeding) seemed to be keys to providing consistent control. In canola, we have not had the fortune of breeding programs that introduce genetic resistance to insects (such as BT in corn). There have been some recent advancements in seed treatment insecticides, which are showing promise as a worthwhile investment in early season protection from Flea Beetles. These evaluations will be complete by the time you are ready to purchase canola seed for 2022, so I will leave you with the invitation to join us this winter for our regional agPROVE meetings that will provide you with local data and relevant experience with the vast array of seed treatment options for your canola. 

I am not sure if many people know this, but I absolutely hate Grasshoppers! I think I am still terrorized by years of driving motorbikes at my Grandparents' farm where there were literally waves of the little critters floating away as we cruised field edges. The only positive is that they are easy to catch, and they do make great dugout trout bait! This year, Grasshopper populations are poised to create some havoc in specific regions within G-Mac's Country. According to the 2021 Saskatchewan Grasshopper forecast (taken in August of 2020), there were not huge expectations for this season. Dry spring conditions have created an ideal situation for the 2021 hatch and we will need to pay attention to populations as the season progresses.

Acres of flax and red lentil are highly concerning as the economic threshold is only 2/m2. The most sensitive stage for flax is after flowering, once balls are present but still green. In lentils, Grasshoppers are most impactful when they are large enough to bounce to the top of the plant. They tend to sit on the stem and take a few bites of the pedicel, between the stem and the pod, and quickly reduce our yield dreams! Frequently scouting for the presence of Grasshoppers is key, and here is my opportunity to end with a plug for our Agronomy Team and their industry leading CrOptics service. If you are tired of scouting and need an experienced set of eyes on your farm, please do not hesitate to engage in a conversation about getting involved with our CrOptics service program on your farm. 

Wheat Midge
Orange Blossom Wheat Midge are a pesky insect that appears late in the season in durum and wheat crops. They are a small, orange, flying insect that does not cause damage to plants as an adult. It is the larvae of the Midge that use the flowering parts of wheat as a food source. They can either eat the kernel entirely or cause enough damage that the grain is down-graded after harvest. Typically, we will analyze the weather conditions (measured in growing degree days) and start to scout once we hit approximately 600 ggd. The male Wheat Midge will emerge first, followed closely behind the females. It is the females, the egg layers, that cause the damage. Thus far, the impact of Midge has been relatively low compared to other seasons. 

As we conclude in the 2021 crop season, I think that it is valuable to look back on prior years where we have battled drought and had the situation compounded by insect pressure. I feel that extended crop rotations, combined with targeted and diligent use of insecticides has put us on a path where we can maintain more consistent production levels, even in the face of huge seasonal variables (such as drought, Flea Beetles, and Grasshoppers). Your farming practices have improved, and we thank you for adapting and your willingness to innovate. G-Mac's AgTeam looks forward to being your trusted retail partner in the future. 

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