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Crop Walks: A New Option for Information in Outlook

By Kaeley Kindrachuk B.App.Sc., AT, Regional Crops Specialist, Outlook

This spring, I started having crop walks at the Canada-Saskatchewan Irrigation Diversification Centre (CSIDC) using the Irrigation Crop Diversification Corporation (ICDC) plots on Tuesday mornings. ICDC is one of eight Agri-ARM sites in the province focused on researching and demonstrating new technologies. These crop walks are designed to get local producers, agronomists, Ministry, ICDC and CSIDC staff talking about timely production issues in the area. Having CSIDC so close gives us all a meeting place and plots to see without anyone having to drive too far. Producers and agronomists are encouraged to bring in pictures and plant samples if they have questions from their own fields. The crop walks started on June 14, and will run until harvest starts. For those who haven’t had a chance to come out, here are the highlights.

Figure 1. Pea leaf weevil feeding on the leaf margins.
Early June is when Ministry staff conducts the pea leaf weevil survey. After hearing that there was damage seen in the faba beans a week earlier, I checked the peas and faba beans in the ICDC plots. Very little pea leaf weevil feeding notches were seen in the peas, but it was just the opposite in the faba beans (Figure 1). The feeding on leaf margins is considered non-economic, but the adults will lay eggs in the soil near the plants and the larvae will feed on the nodules of the plant, which is what causes the economic losses. Normally it is tough to spot the weevils on or near the plants; however, they were easy to pick out in these particular plots (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Pea leaf weevils were easy to find on the faba bean
Figure 3. Cabbage seedpod weevil.
Some of the canola in the plots started to flower by June 21 and scouting from early bud to flowering is the optimum time to find the cabbage seedpod weevil (Figure 3). Weevils were found at economic levels (three to four weevils per sweep) in the plots, and were even spotted in the buds. The adult weevils will feed on the buds, pollen and nectar, but the females lay their eggs inside the new pods and larvae eat the seeds and cause holes in the pods when they emerge.
Figure 4. Look for the “tailpipes” when identifying aphids.
Root rots are a concern this year because of the excess moisture that some areas are receiving. Root rots are difficult to diagnose because they can be caused by more than one pathogen, and they can infect a plant at any time in its life cycle. Aphanomyces is back on the radar of producers after a drier year last year. Aphanomyces is a water mould, which means that the spores will travel by water throughout the soil. There have been multiple root rot and aphanomyces surveys going on this spring, with Regional Crops Specialists surveying for Saskatchewan Pulse Growers and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The pulses in the Outlook area are starting to pod, and there have been some reports of producers finding aphids (Figure 4) in their fields. The economic threshold for aphids in lentils is:

  • Thirty to 40 per sweep in a 180 degree sweep; and
  • Few natural enemies are present; and
  • Aphid numbers do not decline over a two-day period.

The economic threshold for peas is nine to 12 per sweep. There have been plenty of ladybugs in fields, so checking over a couple of days is important to make sure numbers are not naturally declining on their own. If spraying an insecticide, please be sure that you are following the pre-harvest intervals (PHI) and label instructions.

For more information on any of these pests or any others, contact me or your nearest Regional Crops Specialist.

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