CWB to post midge threat maps daily

The Canadian Wheat Board plans daily updates of its new online mapping system to help farmers anticipate threats from wheat midge.

The maps, first introduced last summer on the CWB’s website, will be updated this summer by mid-morning each weekday until the end of July, the CWB said Tuesday.

“Using localized weather information from our WeatherBug network, we have created pest emergence models that farmers have found very useful in their attempts to manage the risk,” CWB agronomist Mike Grenier said in a release.

Cool weather this spring has delayed crop and midge emergence this year by up to two weeks later than normal, he said.

“Wheat growers, depending where they farm, should start checking their fields next week to decide whether midge-control pesticides are necessary,” Grenier said in Tuesday’s release.

“Control measures are most critical between the heading and flowering stages. Our map is designed to alert farmers when they should intensify their scouting for this pest.”

The midge map tool was devised by the CWB using data from Prairie weather stations, including the CWB’s on-farm WeatherBug network, and pest modelling information from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The CWB’s daily maps are colour-coded with growing degree days that indicate midge development stages.

Wheat midge has been a major downgrading factor at harvest in the past two years, costing farmers millions of dollars in yield loss and lower end-use quality. The threat is reduced this year, but farmers “should still be vigilant in assessing their own risk,” the CWB said.

The CWB said its maps are the only online daily information source on wheat midge that’s available to all wheat farmers.

Going forward, the board said, the mapping tool will be “refined and extended” to include other pests of concern to wheat and barley growers. Farmers can bookmark the map page on their home computers or hand-held devices and get a quick snapshot each day of how midge is progressing in their own areas, the CWB suggested.

Grasshopper resource information and hatching models have also recently been posted on the CWB’s site.

The grasshopper models were created by Dan Johnson of the University of Lethbridge, using weather data and support from the CWB.

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