WHEAT GROWERS have been warned 2004 is set to be a bad year for Orange Wheat Blossom midge.

The first soil samples from Dow AgroSciences‘ PestWatch service has revealed an average 18 OWBM per kilo of soil, compared to eight in 2003, 11 in 2002 and just seven in 2001.

“On a local basis the highest population found so far is in East Sussex with almost 140 OWBM,” reported Dow technical services leader David Roberts.

Pupation has only just started, he added, but moist soils and high temperatures will favour further midge development.

East Sussex, North Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Herefordshire, Leicestershire, Essex and Staffordshire show the most damaging populations levels, said the company.

“I would advise growers to identify high risk fields, and consider using traps at the most susceptible sites,” said Mr Roberts.

“These are typically wheat fields where the pest was seen last year, especially if no treatment was carried out.”

A threshold of one midge per six ears should be used for seed or milling crops, and one midge per three ears for feed wheat.