An insect RealAg LIVE! with Scott Meers: Hungry flea beetles, early diamondback moth, and weevils

Episodes:

What’s bugging your crop? (See what we did there?)

Scott Meers, independent agronomist and founder of Mayland Ag Consulting joins RealAg LIVE! host Shaun Haney for an informative and fun chat all about counting bugs. Well, not really. Also not all insects are bugs. Scott would want us to say that. Check out the video below, after the summary!

  • Flea beetles: There are reports of heavy pressure in some areas. Meers says that the need to spray is often because it’s the crop that is struggling, not that flea beetle numbers are super high. For example, last year’s slow emergence in Alberta allowed the beetles to get the upper hand
  • Threshold for flea beetles spraying is 25 per cent feeding on cotyledons, but what does that look like? Check this out, because we tend to overestimate feeding damage. Estimate the activity of the beetles and measure that against the crop conditions, plant stands, and stage of crop (actively growing or just sitting there), Meers says.
  • Solution to pollution is dilution — more canola plants with the same number of beetles, equals less damage. But also, stem feeding can happen in some circumstances, and with low plant populations, could trigger control because you can’t stand to lose any plants (especially with striped flea beetles)
  • Seed treatments are still effective. But we’re seeding earlier, shift to striped flea beetles (emerge earlier), and seeding rates are being pulled back. It’s a recipe for more spraying.
  • Wireworm populations are building (check out the Canola School on that, here)
  • Quick up and out of the ground and established is a solid strategy, and if you didn’t treat seed, you cross your fingers because there is no treatment after that seed is in the ground. Out of a pulse into a cereal seems to be the worst for numbers and damage, anecdotally. Wireworms lay eggs in cereals, by the way.
  • Pea leaf weevils! Some numbers are still quite low, and very few fields are approaching threshold. Peaked 10 years ago, and last three to four years populations have not been recovering, and we don’t know why.
  • Grasshoppers are just beginning to hatch now, and monsoon-like rains can wash them out. Alberta has had near ideal conditions this year, and populations have been building, so it’s early but be aware.
  • Cutworm: be suspicious of bare areas, especially on hills.
  • Time of spraying — does it matter? Cutworms are more active in the evening. Flea beetles are in all the time, so get good coverage, morning might even be better.
  • On chickpeas, cutworm damage can cause branching et al. May need to spray!
  • Murder hornets — fact or fiction? Overblown! Chill out.
  • Leafhoppers not really out there yet and not seeing many yet.
  • Are there any new and exciting insecticides? Maybe
  • Cabbage seedpod weevil, has had lower numbers but will likely be up a little this year
  • For 2020, what should farmers watch for? Well, there’s a real crop out there, and if the rain continues, that’s awesome. There was an early flight of diamondback moth this year, so that is one to watch, particularly canola as it comes into flower. Count them when you’re looking for cabbage seedpod weevil.

Don’t miss Wednesday’s RealAg Live! with Deb Campbell, of Agronomy Advantage!

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