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Alberta insect forecasts for 2018

Alberta’s three new pest maps can help you choose your seed varieties for 2018

Pea Leaf Weevil 2017.

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has added its latest 2018 insect population forecast maps to its website.

“We usually post two forecast maps in December for wheat pests — wheat midge and wheat stem saw fly — so that growers can make appropriate variety decisions,” says Scott Meers, insect management specialist in Alberta Ag’s Pest Surveillance Section. Alberta Ag has also released a new map for this time of year for pea leaf weevil, as Meer says producers are watching that pest now.

Meer recommends that producers treat their pea seed if they’re in the red or dark orange areas, generally from Calgary to Medicine Hat, Red Deer to Edmonton and also a bit northwest of Edmonton. “If you’re in a light orange area,” he says, “look at what happened with your crops last year.”

With wheat midge, Meers says the forecast for 2018 is similar to previous years, but notes that populations were not as severe in 2017 as expected. “There are some populations in individual fields along Highway 2 corridor, Red Deer to Edmonton,” he notes. “Wheat stem saw fly is not as big a concern as the other two pests.”

Maps for grasshopper, cabbage seedpod weevil, Bertha army worm will be posted in January.

Here is a roundup summary from the “Alberta Crop Insect Update 2017,” created by Meers and his colleagues.

Oilseed insects

Diamondback moth were found in the survey at early flower, but an early warning was not recognized during the growing season. Alberta Ag is looking into how it can improve its early warning system and so on.

The cabbage seedpod weevil occurred above economic threshold in southern Alberta.

Bertha armyworm moth catches were very low.

Striped flea beetle and crucifer flea beetle were less of a concern in 2017 than in 2016. Lygus bugs were still less of a concern than in “normal” previous years. Root maggots were common throughout central Alberta again this year. Cutworms were once again a concern.

Swede midge monitoring via pheromone traps was curtailed in 2017 with the discovery of a new species that is not causing significant damage.

Reports of severe damage to seedling canola by red turnip beetles was reported in two areas.

Orange maggots were once again noted in sclerotina-infested canola stems in a number of fields across Alberta.

The migrant painted lady butterfly, an eruptive migrant species whose population has exploded, was found in virtually all regions. Green peach aphid was discovered in a hemp field in late August.

Cereal insects

Significant damage occurred from wheat midge in east central Alberta. There were lots of concerns about wireworms. Wheat stem sawfly is still at relatively low levels throughout its traditional range. Very few cereal leaf beetle and only a couple reports of wheat head armyworm. European corn borer is being increasingly found throughout Alberta.

Wheat Stem Sawfly 2017 Survey. photo: Alberta Agriculture

Pulse crop insects

The expansion of the pea leaf weevil range appeared to stall. No western bean cutworm was found. Lygus damage in fababeans was much lower in 2017. Pea aphid numbers were lower in 2017.

Grass crops, pastures and other insects

There was concern with alfalfa weevil, potato psyllid, and slug damage in various crops.

Grasshopper numbers were surprisingly high in some areas of the Peace and northwest central Alberta.

For more information visit Alberta Agriculture’s Insect Pest Monitoring Network.

New midge tolerant wheat agreements

The Midge Tolerant Wheat Stewardship Team is moving its agreements online.

These agreements require farmers buying midge tolerant wheat seed to commit to only using farm-saved seed for one generation past certified seed.

Rather than signing paper agreements each year when you buy seed (the system that has been in place for the past eight years), now they will ask you to sign electronically. It should be simpler for growers — you only need to sign once, no matter where you buy your seed. All seed growers and retailers will have access to the database so they can have you sign an agreement, or confirm that you have already done so.

The Midge Tolerant Wheat Stewardship Team is a coalition of plant breeders, government, seed growers, seed distributors and producer groups. Their goal is to keep the midge tolerant wheat technology viable for as long as possible through proper farm stewardship.

Wheat Midge Forecast 2018. photo: Alberta Agriculture

About the author


Treena Hein is a freelance writer specializing in science, tech and business trends in agriculture and more.



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