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Delay planting to control insects in winter wheat

Agriculture.com Staff 09/15/2006 @ 10:53am

Winter wheat growers in areas with high insect numbers can avoid damage to the seedlings by delaying planting, a South Dakota State University specialist says.

"Insects that feed on winter wheat seedlings such as grasshoppers and greenbugs are very hard to control with insecticides but are quite susceptible to freezing temperatures in the fall," says SDSU Extension entomologist Mike Catangui. "Delayed planting winter wheat uses freezing temperatures in the fall as a no-cost means of insect control."

Climatologist Dennis Todey says first fall freeze events (temperatures below 28 F) most commonly occur between Sept. 21 and Oct. 10 in the northern winter wheat areas, and between Sept. 28 and Oct. 21 in the southern areas, based on 1974-2003 data.

Louis Hesler, a research entomologist at the SDSU North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (NCARL), the Brookings-based laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, adds that delayed planting reduces the threat from barley yellow dwarf virus. Aphids can transmit the virus to wheat, but a later planting date reduces aphid pressure.

Hesler says a three-year study recently completed by researchers at NCARL and SDSU showed that planting after Sept. 20 reduces the risk from aphids, barley yellow dwarf virus, and grasshoppers.

Long-term studies on planting dates by SDSU agronomists have indicated that winter wheat planted on Oct. 1 will yield the same as winter wheat planted on Sept. 15. However, yields were significantly lower in winter wheat planted on Oct. 15 and Nov. 1. The studies were conducted from 1997 to 2000 under no-till conditions.

Winter wheat growers should consult their local SDSU agronomy educators to determine how late they can plant winter wheat in the fall and still get an optimum yield the following summer, Catangui says.

Winter wheat growers in areas with high insect numbers can avoid damage to the seedlings by delaying planting, a South Dakota State University specialist says.

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