Midge activity begins

ORANGE WHEAT Blossom Midge activity has begun and growers need to monitor crops closely over the coming days, experts warned.

Some insects have already been seen, but the main hatch is likely to occur this weekend (June 4/5), said Jon Oakley from ADAS.

“Growers must be on the look out as a major attack is possible this year. If you have a problem then a very fast response is required as the treatment window can be very short.”

But it is important not to panic when the first reports of midge activity begin, added Dow AgroSciences’ David Roberts. Accurate spray timing is critical, he said.

“Wheat crops in most areas are not even in ear, so the pest cannot cause any harm to these.”

Wheat crops at growth stage 53 to 57 are most vulnerable to attack, so crops at this stage should be monitored closely, the Home Grown Cereals Authority advises.

Midge pupation generally follows heavy rainfall and so each passing heavy shower could trigger a pupation event, said Mr Oakley.

“Midge attacks are therefore localised and there is a huge potential difference in levels of attack, where attacks will occur and the timings involved.”

Where treatment is required, chlorpyrifos is currently the only insecticide approved for midge control and growers must ensure they keep to the recommended spray timings, said Mr Roberts.

The HGCA’s ‘Orange Wheat Blossom Midge assessment and control’ guide is available from www.hgca.com.

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