GFM Network News


The nymph (juvenile) stage of 
the twice-stabbed stink bug.

New and notable Prairie crop pest insects

Haven’t heard of canola flower midge? Can’t identify those RED BUGS showing up in your fields? Didn’t know alfalfa weevil populations are developing insecticide resistance? Everything you need to know about new insect threats

Most Prairie farmers know more than they might want to about common crop pests like grasshoppers, cutworms and flea beetles. However, nature likes to throw curveballs, and pests are no exception. Here’s what you need to know about several new-to-you pests currently catching Prairie farmers by surprise. Alfalfa weevil While alfalfa weevils are familiar to […] Read more

Typically, wheat stem sawfly 
tends to flourish in dry weather.

Parasitoids help control sawfly

Researchers are evaluating the value of wheat stem sawfly’s natural predators

Wheat stem sawfly can cause major yield losses. Scientists are investigating parasitoids, small wasps and nematodes, as well as fungi that can be used to control the pest. Héctor Cárcamo, research scientist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has been conducting research on beneficial insects that attack wheat stem sawfly larvae. Sawfly, said Cárcamo, has a […] Read more


Blackleg in canola.

Helping our plants to help themselves

One day, farmers may be able to use natural products to fight blackleg and other diseases

New research that could lead to a biological alternative to chemical fungicides began with work into food safety. “We were interested in whether food-fermenting lactobacilli would produce molecules that prevent fungal growth,” says Dr. Michael Gaenzle, who is leading the research into antifungal lipids at the University of Alberta. Gaenzle’s team came across some molecules […] Read more

Nature’s fly control program

Nature’s fly control program

Parasitic wasps won’t eliminate flies, but can reduce numbers

With the arrival of spring comes the new crop of flies. Since experiencing fly strike last year, controlling the fly population is more of a priority. Last summer we began to notice not only were sprays not working as well as they used to, they are getting harder to find. This is due to tighter restrictions […] Read more


Crescent-shaped notches on pea leaves are evidence of the presence of pea leaf weevils.


Keep a watchful eye for pea leaf weevil

Be ready to scout your fields. This pest is headed north


There’s a new pest heading north in Alberta and it’s eersoving fast. Although a regular in southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan, the pea leaf weevil has now been sighted as far north as Athabasca, Alberta. “There’s been a real range expansion,” says Scott Meers, insect management specialist with Alberta Agriculture. “It’s a concerning issue for […] Read more

Growers should only use an insecticide when an economic threshold for a pest is reached.

Don’t jump the gun on pest control

It’s never a good idea to overreact when you see insects on your crops because jumping the gun, and spraying if it’s not really necessary, can do more harm than good. “Seldom, if ever, do preventative insecticides actually pay us,” says Scott Meers, insect specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “When we spray just to […] Read more


Researchers are still learning about how plants communicate. One day, research looking at modifying plant behaviour could be used to increase crop yields or combat weed growth.

New research shows plants talking

Plant researchers are finding a surprising amount of unseen communication among plants

Farmers know well the issues that can arise with their crops. One of the biggies is insects eating plants. What’s interesting, though, is that recently more studies are being done on how plants communicate with and to the environment around them. While research on plants has been happening for thousands of years, says Dr. James […] Read more

organic wheat

Musing on going organic

An email from a long-time organic farmer pushes Toban Dyck to wonder if he should try it too

The scene ends in horror. No matter how many times I replay. Telling the farming community and anyone else who would listen that “I, Toban Dyck, am going organic” is like saying, “thanks for letting me spend a couple years on the family farm; now I’m going to plunge it into bankruptcy,” while wearing a […] Read more