Bugs!!! How to act reasonably in bug season.

 

July 13th, 2013

 

BUGS!!!  Nothing gets a producer more excited than something physically moving in their crop potentially doing damage.  The last few weeks airplanes and ground sprayers have been out in force protecting our food source in these good plant growing conditions, mostly from disease.  However, more often than not, I hear of producers just “throwing in” insecticide.  Ideally, this would be a highly informed decision from someone that has inspected their field. Not because they heard their neighbors were spraying or that a report came out with a hot-spot 60miles away.  There definitely comes a point where crops have to be sprayed for insects but there’s a long list of criteria that should be walked through first. That list is always changing and is much different than it was 10 years ago, or even last season.

 

As farming practices progress with better technologies and ultimately higher yields, crops are able to withstand more stress.  Examples of this are new insecticides that only target specific insects, or improved genetically engineered crop varieties which are able to resist more damage.  It’s been proven beneficial to have moderate numbers of harmful insects in canola, alongside all the beneficial insects, as the plants kick themselves into a higher compensatory gear to recover from minor damage, therefor improving yield.  These levels are not far off from what used to be the economic thresholds to spray.

 

One of the most important questions to ask yourself is what level of production do you consider yourself?  Are you a trail blazer that considers replacement nutrition and regularly casts a shadow on your crop?  Or, do you still do what Grandpa did, looks at your crops once in a while from the truck on the way to town, and considers everything a cost rather than a potential investment?  If you’re happy with 25-30 bushel canola, then your insect threshold will be lower than a producer that is not happy unless 50-60+bu is falling in the hopper.

 

There’s no exact math saying that twice the crop potential means twice the threshold, but one excuse I’ll never ethically recommend to producers or to the environment, is to spray because “Canola is worth $12/bu”, or “it’s not that much money”.

 

Here’s a few tips to determine whether or not a particular field should be sprayed.

  • YOU!!! Buy a $100 sweep net (big butterfly catcher).  They’re much cheaper than a $300,000 combine
  • Sweep in a part of the field that is healthy and competitive, NOT along the edge of the field or in a slew
  • Sweep regularly!  We look at our fields twice a week this time of year
  • Bugs are like fair-weather golfers – they mostly like 10-25C, not much wind, and they hate rain.  Insects need heat to complete their life cycle.  A heavy rain will devastate young lygus bugs.
  • Know the life cycle of the damaging insects.  Cabbage Seed Pod Weevils need Seed Pods to do damage – go figure!

Matt Gosling, Premium Ag, Canola, Bug sweeping, agrologist

One of my life missions is to educate farmers and consumers alike on local and global agriculture issues.  Follow me on Twitter to learn more.

 

@PremiumAg    www.premiumag.ca

 



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