The Agronomists, Ep 95: Top disease, weed, and insect challenges of 2022


Get ready for our year-end wrap-up of The Agronomists! For this episode, host Lyndsey Smith asks the panelists from across Canada what the top weather, disease, insect, and weed challenge were for the 2022 growing season.

To cover everything from flea beetles, surprising yields, and noxious weeds, our special guests are Jeremy Boychyn of Alberta Wheat & Barley Commissions, Jason Voogt of Field 2 Field Agronomy, and Deb Campbell of Agronomy Advantage.

As we wrap up the year that was, we also send a thank you to our episode sponsors ADAMA Canada, CanolaMaster, and RealAg Radio!

The Agronomists returns January 9, 2023 at 8 pm E!


Let’s start with the top weather stories of the year

  • For Ontario, it was dry but also just-in-time, just enough moisture
  • For Alberta, it was too dry but also too much moisture all at once
  • For Manitoba, it was a 180 from drought to too wet, to delayed seeding, to ending up a good season overall
  • What was the impact of the weather? Everything from amazing yields for soybeans in Manitoba, to record wheat yield in Ontario, to ho-hum canola in some of the west (more on that later)
  • Most miserable looking wheat in fall o 2021. It was the miracle of 2022!
  • Soybeans going in before canola was the right call in 2022 in Manitoba
  • Can we plan for this? Get them in early!
  • More nodes, shorter internode space — it’s all about day length
  • For Alberta, hail came late in some concentrated areas and wiped out any chance of a crop. Heart breaking

Time for insects!

  • In Alberta, the gosh darn grasshoppers got away on many — scout, scout, scout!
  • They are easier to control when smaller
  • Check the survey/forecast map, too, where available
  • Wheat stem sawfly episode is here 
  • Campbell asks: how accurate are the forecast maps?
  • If we could have an Ontario version, Campbell would like it for aphids and spider mites
  • Soybean aphids are a chronic issue for most of Ontario
  • Having the right product available at the right time for insects is key, and didn’t always happen (more on that later too)
  • Cereal aphids were also an issue. Different aphids. Oats seemed hard hit
  • Are more oats in rotation adding to the problem? Possible. Green bridge, alternative host
  • The expectation for higher yields is there, so the spray pays
  • For Manitoba, aphids were also an issue (cereal). Vector for barley yellow dwarf virus
  • Some over winter, some don’t
  • Buckthorn is an alternate host for aphids and for crown rust
  • Ah, flea beetles
  • Apocalyptic is the word Voogt would use for 2022 flea beetles
  • Many treated acres still saw a spray
  • There will be an issue in 2023, for sure
  • Is delayed seeding the way to go? Maybe
  • The risk of heat blast may be less than the cost of spraying and reseeding
  • Alberta is also struggling with shifting population of flea beetles, too
  • Shift to striped flea beetle
  • Don’t be afraid to seed canola later

Disease time!

  • Bacterial leaf streak in wheat — fungicides don’t work, it’s spread by seed at first. Boychyn says scout and test because saving seed will introduce it to new fields next year
  • For Manitoba, blackleg and verticillium stripe were the biggest issues for sure (in canola)
  • Sclerotinia was a non-issue
  • Verticillium enters the plant early but impact shows up much later
  • Canola School on verticillium here
  • Tar spot was a non-issue in Ontario, amazingly
  • The disease triangle matters — host, pathogen, environment
  • The biggest disease, really, was boring old northern corn leaf blight

Weeds time

  • For Ontario, the biggest issue is waterhemp — whether you think it is or not
  • Crop rotation breaks so many pest cycles. We need to stick to solid crop rotations
  • In Manitoba, a second Palmer amaranth plant found in 2022
  • Waterhemp is in Manitoba too
  • Fleabane! It’s also bad
  • Alberta is most scared of the weeds in Ontario and Manitoba
  • Kochia, y’all. It’s everywhere and resistant to so many actives
  • Wild oats are causing issues in new places. Frustrating

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! The Agronomists will be back January 9, 2023

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