Guenther: Scout now for flea beetles

Flea beetles are on the march and Prairie farmers need to scout canola fields to keep them at bay.

“I’ve seen some fields where flea beetles’ levels are high enough where it has warranted spraying. Again, like every year, it is spotty,” Lyndon Hicks said during an interview here during Canada’s Farm Progress Show.

Hicks is a regional crops specialist with Saskatchewan Agriculture in Yorkton.

Farmers are also reporting flea beetles in the southeast, southwest and other areas in east-central Saskatchewan, according to the most recent Saskatchewan Agriculture crop report.

In Manitoba, cool weather and the advanced stage of canola crops mean less flea beetle damage. But flea beetles are still a concern in some areas, according to the province’s June 17 insect and disease update.

Flea beetles generally raid the field edge first, so the Canola Council of Canada suggests scouting the perimeter. If the pests haven’t invaded the entire field yet, spraying the field edge might provide enough control.

But flea beetles may move farther into the field on hot, calm days, the Council notes.

Although canola seedlings can handle up to 50 per cent leaf loss, the Canola Council of Canada recommends spraying once leaf damage hits 25 per cent.

“They can’t handle a whole lot of insect pressure early on,” said Hicks. “So now’s a pretty important time to be watching.”

— Lisa Guenther is a field editor for Grainews based at Livelong, Sask. Follow her at @LtoG on Twitter.

 

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