Beat summer crop pests with monitoring

Author: Ellen McNamara | Date: 22 Oct 2015

The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is calling on growers to carefully monitor for soil-dwelling insect pests in the lead up to summer crop sowing to avoid poor crop establishment.

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) principal entomologist Dr Melina Miles said monitoring could help growers detect pests that feed on the ger­mi­nat­ing seed below ground (false wire­worms, true wire­worms and seed har­vest­ing ants) as well as surface-dwelling pests which attack the seedlings as they emerge, defo­li­at­ing and cut­ting off seedlings (false wire­worm bee­tles, wing­less cock­roaches, ear­wigs and crick­ets).

“Grain baits are an effec­tive way of mon­i­tor­ing for soil-dwelling insect pests of sum­mer crops and is prefer­able to sam­pling with a shovel, which is both time con­sum­ing and unreliable,” Dr Miles said.

“Germinating seed baits are the best option for understanding presence and numbers of those pests above or below ground.

“Germinating seed baits are best used in the field after rain, or failing that, you can water the area around the baits to ensure the grain germinates and seedlings emerge.”

Dr Miles recommends soaking a kilogram of any insecticide-free crop seed in water overnight, or for at least two hours, to initiate germination.

She said growers should use 20 germinating seed baits per 100 hectare block, and place the ger­mi­nat­ing grain at five widely-spaced sites across each 100 ha block.

“Baits should be checked in 3-5 days, longer if it’s cooler. By digging up the baits and a shovelful of surrounding soil you can examine any pests and estimate their numbers,” Dr Miles said.

For more information on testing, monitoring and species identification visit DAF’s insect pest management blog The Beatsheet or watch the `how to’ video on setting up germinating seed baits.

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