Ag, Insects Warming Up Across Texas

As temperatures warm up across the wheat regions of the state and the crop comes out of dormancy, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist said it is time to begin scouting fields for insect pests.

Dr. Ed Bynum, AgriLife Extension entomologist in Amarillo, said producers need to be scouting for greenbugs, bird cherry-oat aphids and Russian wheat aphids, especially throughout the High Plains. Those three are the most common wheat pests dealt with annually.

Bynum said a producer and Scott Strawn, AgriLife Extension agent in Ochiltree County, have also found army cutworms in a wheat field.

“While army cutworms are normally not a big problem, we do recommend treating if the pressure increases,” he said.

If the wheat is in good condition, then the threshold for treating army cutworms is four or more per square foot, Bynum said. If wheat is just coming out of dormancy or under moisture stress, the threshold is two or more larvae per square foot.

He said decisions to treat for both greenbugs and the aphids should be based on established economic thresholds found in his Texas Panhandle Pest News,

Another insect of concern, Bynum said, is winter grain mites, which were found in a field near Bushland. They can be a pest of wheat, barley, oats and rye.

He said damage symptoms begin as speckled yellow spots on the leaf similar to spider mite damage on corn leaves, but progresses; the tips of the leaves turn brown, plant stunting with a silvery-grey appearance and even plant death.

No thresholds are available for making control decisions on winter grain mites, Bynum said. Activity from these pests is expected to decline when temperatures exceed 75 degrees, so treatment will be a judgement call based on signs of damage and expected temperatures.

AgriLife Extension district summaries can be found here.

Source: Texas AgriLife

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