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Flea Beetles – Chewing Their Way Into June

As many people find themselves finishing up the seeding season, we also find ourselves at the beginning stages of the bug season. If you have been out and about in your fields you have probably noticed small black bugs that are the size of a pin head bouncing around. 

The striped and crucifer flea beetles are the two common species that feed on canola in the Canadian prairies. Hop flea beetles can also be found, but occur in low numbers throughout the prairies. All three species can vary in the way they look, how they feed, and when they emerge. 

When To Look For Them

Flea beetles emerge in early Spring, and can cause damage to your canola crop from emergence, up until the 3-4 leaf stage. They aren’t picky eaters, and are known to feed on the cotyledons, leaves, stems, roots or any fleshy tissue on the plant. Sunny, warm and dry weather is preferred by the beetles, but less ideal conditions don’t seem to slow them down either. They are known to increase below ground and underside of leaf feeding during the less than ideal conditions.

How To Manage Them

It is important to assess where the bugs are feeding and how much of it there is. Action threshold levels are when average leaf area loss is more than 25%, and it is considered economically beneficial to spray insecticide when the leaf area loss is above 50%. There are no established threshold levels for stem feeding, which is why it is so important to assess where the feeding is taking place. If the flea beetles are actively feeding on leaf tissue, stem tissue and/or the growing point, the action level might be lower. 

There are different control options and management practices to help mitigate the damage these guys can have on your canola crop. Seed treatment options like Prosper Evergol and Helix Vibrance are standard on your canola seed to protect against flea beetles, but you can enhance your protection by adding Lumiderm on your seed when you order it. There are also in-crop insecticide control options to cover you off if populations rise and leaf damage is above threshold levels. Lastly, there are cultural control methods such as seeding early to get crop establishment before the emergence of the flea beetles, allowing a higher tolerance to injury. The second practice is increasing your seeding rate, this can help you reduce the impact of the flea beetle damage by spreading it out over more plants allowing for easier recovery from the stress event. 

Don’t Fear Though

The sight of these pesky little bugs probably have you wondering a few different things. Such as, why your seed treatment isn’t working. The truth is, it is working. But, with the newer chemistries, the flea beetles have to feed on the plant to ingest the insecticide for it to work. Whereas older seed treatments were used as more of a deterrent or repellent. Also, seed treatments only give a 28-35 day protection window after the crop is seeded, in cooler, dry weather the crop could be slower growing and not past the 3-4 leaf stage so it is at risk for flea beetle damage. 

Contact our SynergyAG Agronomists and they can help you determine which is the right course of action against your flea beetles! 

 

Niki Beingessner CCA, PAg

Sales Agronomist – Yorkton

 

Weeding Out The Weeds

Whether you are watching from the cab of a drill, floater, combine, or sprayer, this Spring you can see specks of green littering your fields that were unbelievably clean last year. This previous year was an anomaly on the Canadian prairies – A dry, cold Spring, where we had uneven germination, and weed-less fields for miles. Cue a timely rain in June, and that changed. Flushes of kochia, cleavers, and narrow-leaved hawksbeard took over our once clean crops. Fast forward to this year, we are seeing the repercussions of these flushes. Spring is a busy time, and a pre-burn is not always feasible, especially with the possibility of snow storms in April. Coming into post-emergence, we have to be prepared. 

Weeds such as kochia, volunteer canola, and wild buckwheat, although they look innocent, can prove to be detrimental to crop yields. High weed populations in the early part of the growing season create competition for water, nutrients, and sunlight, which are all essential for the developing crop. This is why it is important to have early control. A post-harvest application if possible, will reduce instances of winter annuals. A pre-emergence application will allow for a wide spectrum of herbicides to be used; in turn this doesn’t limit the weeds you can control. This will reduce stress on the plants and your sprayer operator, once the crop is emerged. 

Post-emergence, your options are limited a considerable amount. When this is the case, the best option is typically to wait until your crop reaches the appropriate staging for given herbicide options, and then spray. Given the way the growing season has started, our crops are going to have some early season vigour that we did not see in 2019. This means that it should have some competitive edge against weed pressure.

Another area we have advanced on in agriculture is herbicide rotation and herbicide layering. It is important to keep these in mind when spraying the crops, and when planning out your crop rotation. Herbicide rotation refers to using a different active on the same field with each pass. This is to ensure that weeds do not become herbicide resistant. An even more effective way to reduce herbicide resistance is to layer your active ingredients. This way, if one active only hurts the weed and doesn’t kill it, the next one will. This will limit the ability of the resistant plant to reproduce and make for a herbicide resistant mess in the following years. 

At the end of the day, your best option when it comes to weed control is to be proactive and to talk to your Agronomist. With them, you will want to discuss your options and the best way to control the spectrum of weeds in your field. Visit your local SynergyAG retail location and connect with their Agronomist.

 

Happy spraying!  

Karly Rumpel A.Ag., BSc.(Agr.)

Sales Agronomist

Synergy AG Govan