POLLEN BEETLES are already being seen in oilseed rape crops and cooler weather could increase the risk of damage to susceptible crops, growers have been told.

Beetles have been detected in monitoring sites in the eastern counties and growers must keep a close eye on crops to ensure pod set is not seriously damaged, said Monsanto‘s Mahon Brennan.

“While we only detected one or two beetles per plant, the worry is that most crops are at the yellow bud stage and colder, wetter conditions make crops more vulnerable to attack,” he said.

Later flowering crops will be at particular risk if pollen beetle numbers build up, he said – something Masstock‘s agronomist, Andrew Richards agrees with.

“As we saw last season, crops that didn‘t get away early enough in the autumn or were badly grazed by pigeons were the most vulnerable to attack and least able to compensate for it.”

Growers must take the threat seriously, added Mr Brennan. “Even if pollen beetle wasn‘t an issue last season, it doesn‘t mean it will not be one this year.”