Flea beetles and frost damage prompt reseeding of canola in Saskatchewan

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Despite spring weather dividing the province of Saskatchewan in two, one thing that remains consistent across the entire province is flea beetle damage in canola crops. This, along with late spring frosts and dry conditions in the west, means some farmers haven’t put their seeders away just yet.

Matthew Struthers is a crop extension specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture and says the most damage from flea beetles has been seen in the west central and southwest portions of the province.

“Very high concentrated damage has been due to the crop just having enough moisture to come up, but not enough moisture to really advance its growth stages quickly,” says Struthers. “So those flea beetles were able to get to the at the cotyledon stage and do a lot of damage.”

Even with seed treatments, some farmers have had to spray to control the pest. “There’s just so many beetles and the canola just just couldn’t take it,” Struthers says.

Flea beetle damage in canola along with frost and drought damage throughout other crops, Struthers says farmers are preparing to reseed, though mostly just at the headlands.

For those who are weighing their options, Struthers says if farmers’ plant stand count is below four to six per square foot, it’s likely worth jumping back in the tractor to go round two on seeding.

The west side of the province has received some much needed rain over the past 24 hours with more on the way this week and possibly into next week, which means it may be a bit yet until farmers can get back in the fields to get those few selected acres reseeded.

Looking out into the rest of the growing season, Struthers says Saskatchewan farmers should be scouting often for grasshoppers depending on how much rain we get over the course of the next couple months.

“We’re hearing grasshoppers are on the rise again so I’d be very, very vigilant as they can do a serious amount of damage in just a short amount of time.,” warns Struthers. ” So, scout regularly for grasshoppers and get on them before they become much of an issue. The nice thing to see would be more rain than we had last year, that’ll keep the grasshoppers down, we won’t have to worry so much about keeping them in control ourselves. The rain will do that for us.”

In the meantime, many farmers, especially in the west, are sitting back and enjoying the rain.

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