Volunteers wanted for grower pollen beetle trials

Sites are needed for monitoring trap trials catching pollen beetles in winter oilseed rape.

Better risk assessments were needed for the pest to try to reduce the chances of widespread resistance developing to the simplest and cheapest control method – spraying pyrethroid insecticides, Sam Cook, a Rothamsted researcher said at the HGCA Pulses and Oilseeds conference.

In the trials baited traps will be placed in oilseed rape crops this spring for six weeks to attract the pests. The catches would give much needed data about pest behaviour, and help improve risk assessments, she explained.

But additional sites were “desperately” needed to place the monitoring traps, she stressed.

Over the last decade, pollen beetle populations have developed resistance to pyrethroid pesticides in mainland Europe.

In Germany, an estimated 30,000ha of oilseed crops was lost to the pollen beetle, at an estimated loss of between €22-25m in 2006

And pyrethroid resistant pollen beetle populations had spread to the UK – especially in south and east England. Fortunately it was currently at a relatively low level, said Dr Cook.

But with concern that stricter EU regulations may revoke other insecticide options, like Biscaya (thiacloprid), resistance to pyrethroids was a potential problem.

The HGCA-funded four-year project ending in 2012 aimed to develop an integrated strategy based on monitoring, risk assessment and crop management to help reduce insecticide use, she said.

In particular the hope was to develop traps that could be used commercially, and to modify risk assessment programmes used on the continent that alerted growers to potential problems. It was also evaluating non-chemical control measures, such as trap crops.

Traps kits and instructions are available from Dr Cook at sam.cook@bbsrc.ac.uk

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