July 5, 2017 | Kris Cherewyk
Wheat Midge and the Importance of Early Maturity
Over the last number of months, we have been discussing how a seeding operation affects other areas of farming throughout the year. With the hot, dry weather being experienced across the prairies, it is a good time to talk about another damaging pest: wheat midge. Even though forecast maps often predict varying populations for different areas, it is still important to scout for midge as high infestations can cause severe damage to wheat which can result in large quality/yield losses if left unchecked. Adult midge over-winter in the soil and emerge in late June or early July. Females lay eggs in the emerging wheat heads which are especially susceptible from emergence to early flowering (anthesis). The larvae that hatch feed on the developing kernel causing it to shrivel, deform and become cracked. Downgrading of wheat samples directly affects the bottom line of any farming operation as well as the yield losses from the shriveled kernels being thrown out the back of the combine during harvest.
There are several ways in which producers can help prevent midge damage, including early seeding and early maturity and this is where a Seed Hawk drill can help. Placing the seed at a close but safe distance from the fertilizer allows the plant to access the nutrients quickly and results in a quicker maturing crop. If the crop matures past the susceptible stage when midge flies become active, damage to the crop is minimal. Spraying insecticides is not only expensive but hazardous to the environment and it is desirable to include more cultural controls such as this one to help reduce the risk. A good seeding operation allows the crop a fighting chance throughout the year and the right tool for the job makes a big difference.