Scouting tips for a rainy growing season by Kaitlynn Anderson (Jul 31, 2017)

Scouting tips for a rainy growing season

Wet weather proves to be a nuisance to many farmers


By Kaitlynn Anderson


With a promising forecast for late July and early August, farmers should scout their fields for pests and diseases.


One of the major concerns is Western Bean Cutworm (WBC), which has appeared in many Ontario fields. The pest has arrived in areas where it has not traditionally been a problem, according to OMAFRA’s Thursday Field Crop Report.


In addition, the cool, damp weather has resulted in poorly-uniformed fields, making it difficult for farmers to plan insecticide applications to control WBC.


“To date, our moth count is high but we haven’t seen any eggs in fields that have tasseled – but that may change,” says Clark Aitken, a CCA-ON and production manager at Parkland Farms in Sarnia.


The peak flight window for WBC is approaching, Aitken notes.


OMAFRA reminds producers that the goal of spraying is to protect the silks from the WBC larvae. Damage to the silks not only results in injury to the ear but also provides an entryway for diseases.


Farmers who would like more information on which products to use for WBC control can consult the OMAFRA Field Crop Protection Guide.


Soybeans, on the other hand, are experiencing relatively low insect pressure. Pests, such as aphids, are present but typically in very small amounts.


With the above-average rainfall this summer, conditions are ideal for white mould development in many fields across Ontario. For fields that have a history of the disease, OMAFRA recommends farmers apply foliar fungicides between the R2 (full bloom) and R3 (early pod formation) stages in order to protect as many flowers as possible.


Prevention is key, as it is too late to apply foliar fungicides once white mould is present. 


Growers should also be on the lookout for root rots, which may start to appear in the soybean crop.


“Some fields in the (southern part of Lambton County) that received a lot of rain are starting to show signs of phytophthora root rot,” says Aitken.


On a brighter note, producers and grain elevators have made very few reports of fusarium in harvested cereals. Protein levels in the crop are ranging between 9 and 9.5 per cent, OMAFRA says.


Farmers are typically harvesting average to above average yields of wheat, although perhaps not reaching last year's highs.


“Compared to last year, yields are down,” said Aitken. “But we’re still a little bit above our average. The quality (of the harvest) is quite good.”


Moving into mid-summer, Aitken has a few words of advice for farmers.


“Take note of corn hybrids and soybean varieties, and any associated disease issues you come across,” he said. “For example, with phytophthora, some varieties are resistant and some varieties are susceptible.”


Image source: Gettyimages/ArtistGNDphotography

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