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Controlling bugs with seed treatments

A bertha armyworm gets its fill on a canola seed pod.

Technology has given western Canadian farmers access to a wide range of options when it comes to insect control in canola. Crucifer and striped flea beetles, wireworm, cutworm, root maggot, cabbage seedpod weevil, bertha armyworm and diamondback moth are just some insect pests that can be particularly problematic for both crop health and farmers’ bottom lines.

Insect populations depend on weather, climate, management, wind patterns and previous season environmental conditions. Consequences of improperly managing insects include crop and yield loss and decreasing crop quality, which can result in both economical and biological impacts. For example, root maggot damage can make plants more vulnerable to pathogens such as blackleg.

For insect pests that feed on crops early in the growing season, seed treatments can be an effective management technique by protecting crop seedlings when they are most vulnerable to attack from both, insects and pathogens. Farmers can control insects through both management and chemical techniques, including seed treatments, which place the protection at the right place, at the right time in the correct dose.

Here are three important factors to consider when selecting a control method:

  1. Adhere to economic thresholds. Not all insect damage is of economic importance and using action or economic thresholds can assist growers in deciding if chemical controls need to be applied.
  2. Understand the pest affecting the crop and to scout fields often. Using a seed treatment will help get the crop off to the best start, but insects can attack crops throughout the season so managing and scouting for these various pests is important.
  3. Foliar treatments can be utilized as well. This depends on the pest and the timing of the pest. For example, a seed treatment will often not protect crops against later-season pest infestations. For example, in canola, a seed treatment is unlikely to prevent an outbreak of bertha armyworm later in the growing season. If thresholds are reached, then foliar sprays may need to be applied to assist in protection.

For more information on seed treatments and purchasing seed, speak to your seed company, crop protection representative, extension personnel, or retail or crop advisor.

Kristin Hacault is seed treatment sales and marketing leader for DuPont Pioneer and DuPont Crop Protection Canada.

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