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Aphids, cereal leaf beetles can be trouble for crops

By Scott Tilley
For the Salisbury Post
By now, farmers from around the state of North Carolina should have all their small grains planted. The same goes for Rowan County farmers. Many farmers plant early in order to take advantage of early tillering, which in the end can lead to higher yields. However, others plant somewhat toward the end of the planting window in order to avoid insect and disease problems. This strategy in itself can lead to higher yields if like everything else managed properly. However, Cooperative Extension feels for the most part farmers making this decision on planting dates would rather plant early, thus relying heavily on variety selection and pest applications to control insects and disease. Therefore, it is important to know what to look for with the spring season coming soon.
Two insects that dominate this area and are seen most frequently are aphids and the cereal leaf beetle. Aphids can become a problem for many farmers in the area and unfortunately, this is not an insect you can see from the truck. You have to get out and scout the field. Aphid populations can increase dramatically in the spring compared to the fall due to plant growth. Furthermore, farmers need to be aware that increased populations in aphids can lead to an increased spring- transmitted Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV). Keep this in mind when scouting fields in the fall, and most certainly be aware of this in the spring when symptoms of BYDV are easier to spot.
Cereal leaf beetle is the other insect local farmers need to be on the lookout for. Adults overwinter in debris and field litter and emerge in the spring to lay eggs. From here, larvae begin to feed on the grain and, if left unchecked, can lead to serious crop injury, which in turn leads to serious economic loss. Be ready to scout in early spring and be aware of the amount eggs that are laid. This is important due to the fact that egg mortality can be high which in turn may lead to decreased amounts of larvae that never reach threshold. Thus, an insecticide application is not needed.
It is important that many farmers keep this in mind as the growing season continues to move forward. Rowan County Cooperative Extension encourages all growers to read the 2011-12 Small Grain Production Guide. Our specialist at North Carolina State University did a great job showing detailed pictures with accurate up-to-date research on small grain varieties, and pesticides to use when thresholds are reached. For a copy of this production guide or for more information on insects or diseases to look for in your small grain crop, please call Scott Tilley at 704-216-8970 or email scott_tilley@ncsu.edu .

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