Monday, 30 July 2018

2018 Cumulative counts for bertha armyworm pheromone traps

Pheromone trapping for the 2018 growing season is now completed with cumulative counts revealing  moths at five of the six sites AAFC-Beaverlodge monitored (Fig. 1).  The site near Fairview had the highest moth counts but the total number of intercepted moths still sits within the "low risk" category used by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry to help predict bertha armyworm larvae during the early pod stages. 

Figure 1.  Cumulative pheromone trap counts (n=1 trap per site) from commercial fields of canola grown in the Peace River region in 2018.  This preliminary data is not to be copied or reproduced without permission.

Growers are encouraged to use the above information to prioritize their in-field scouting.  The above pheromone traps are not precise predictors but remain valuable to growers because they help identify WHERE the moths were flying and WHICH FIELDS TO CHECK for larvae (Fig. 2).

Figure 2.  Late instar bertha aryworm larvae (photo credit: AAFC-Saskatoon).

When present, bertha armyworm larvae should now be moving upwards on canola plants to feed on the developing pods.  The economic threshold for bertha armyworm applies to the larval stages so use the tables posted here to help guide your in-field pest management

Remember two important concepts for insect pest management in your canola fields:

  • Low numbers of bertha armyworm can fall within a tolerable level where negligible feeding damage may occur but no economic losses will result!  Scout and use the economic threshold values to avoid economic losses!
  • Reserve insecticide use only to manage outbreaking populations of bertha armyworm!  Not spraying actually protects and preserves the many natural enemies already actively working for free in fields!

Learn more about bertha armyworm, @FieldHeroes, natural enemies, and use the canola scouting chart to help your canola produce this year!

Contact Jennifer Otani for more information and thank you to our producer-cooperators!

Monday, 18 June 2018

2018 Field Crop Student Assistants

Students are an important part of our research, especially during the summer months when field and laboratory work peaks at the Beaverlodge Research Farm.  Each summer, student assistants are hired using FSWEP1, COOP2, and RAP3 programs.  These job positions offer a unique opportunity for students to learn valuable on-the-job skills while supplementing the applied side of their scientific education.

The federal hiring programs used to staff our student assistant positions require that students be enrolled at a recognized post-secondary institution and that students carry a full-time course load both prior to and following their period of employment.  In fact, our research programs typically screen applicants by the end of December in order to offer positions to work at our Farm from May-August.

We’re pleased to have the following students join us to work and learn in the Agronomy & Crop AdaptationΨ, Integrated Forage Seed ManagementΦ, and Pest Management Programsπ for the 2018 growing season:

Back row (L to R): Nabeel Abdul-Basith enrolled at Mount Royal University, Maya Schmidt enrolled at the University of Alberta, Michael Theriault enrolled at Mount Royal University, Amanda Jorgensen enrolled at the University of Alberta,  and Shelby Dufton enrolled at the University of Lethbridge.

Front row (L to R): Marie McCallum enrolled at the University of British Columbia, Jacey Toerper enrolled at the Grande Prairie Regional College campus of the University of Alberta, Megan McElhinny enrolled at the University of British Columbia, Haley Brackenridge enrolled at Queens University, Rebecca Philip enrolled at Thompson River University, and Julia Kappeler enrolled at the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta.

Absent from photo: Jeremy Poortvliet enrolled at University of the Fraser Valley.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Rebecca!

Hello! My name is Rebecca Philip and I have been working at AAFC-Beaverlodge since September 2017.  From September to the end of December 2017, I was working in the Pulse Breeding program based out of AAFC-Lacombe where I was responsible for carrying out cross pollination of pea flowers in an effort to develop new varieties of field peas.  I am excited to switch to the Insect Pest Management program and to learn about insect pests and some of the natural enemies found within field crops grown in the Peace River region.

I am currently enrolled in the  third year of the Natural Resource Science program at Thompson Rivers University, which is located in Kamloops BC. I have a strong love for the outdoors and working outside and I am lucky to have a job and a program that reflect this! Although I come from BC, this is not my first time living in Alberta. Most of my childhood was spent just north of Edmonton in the small town of Bon Accord.

So far, the first weeks in the IPM program have been focused on data entry for the 2017 CARP Flea Beetle project but I’ve also been processing wheat midge from samples collected during the growing season. We are retrieving wheat midge larvae from wheat heads threshed using a single-head thresher.  The data will quantify the density of wheat midge occurring in local wheat fields. In the near future, I will work on the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network’s Blog to archive and update information in preparation for the 2018 growing season.

Figure 1. Rebecca pinning and labelling carabid beetles.

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Maya!

My name is Maya Schmidt and I’ve just begun my second summer working at the Beaverlodge Research Farm.It’s my first time working with the IPM program.

I’ve recently finished my first year of my Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Alberta. I am eager to learn tons this summer and have already had fascinating experiences in my first few weeks of the job.  In the last couple of weeks, we’ve been setting up flea beetle and diamondback moth traps located at various growers’ fields around the county. The flee beetle traps are a double sided yellow sticky card – the yellow colour of the card is what attracts the flea beetles. The diamondback moth ones are set up as a delta trap, with a sticky card and pheromone lure inside to attract male moths. Recently, we collected the first set of cards which need to be collected and replaced every week. The cards are processed by inspecting them under a microscope. We identify and count the target insects on each trap.

The other new students and I have also been assisting the two graduate students, Amanda and Shelby, with processing their wheat samples.  Their experiments involve hand-threshing wheat head samples to identify and count wheat midge larvae infestation levels. Other collecting and processing involved red clover field trash where we are looking for overwintered weevils and red clover casebearers.
I hope to gain valuable experience, expand my scientific knowledge and perhaps step out of my comfort zone. It looks like it’s going to be an interesting summer!

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Julia!

Hi! My name is Julia Kappeler.

I worked for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lacombe last year, but relocated to Beaverlodge this summer to gain experience. I am excited to be involved with the Insect Pest Management program and have a lot to learn here.

I am a fourth-year student at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus in Camrose, majoring in Biology. I’ve been involved with undergraduate entomology research at Augustana with Dr. Tomislav Terzin. This past January, I took part in a field study course in Costa Rica where I studied katydids as bioindicators. I am an aspiring entomologist and bug collector and am excited to see what this season here in Beaverlodge and the Peace River region brings!

Meet our students (2018) - Introducing Mariah!

Hi everyone! My name is Mariah Ediger and I am enrolled in the third year of a Bachelor of Natural Resource Science degree at Thompson Rivers University. On January 8, 2018, I started to work in the Integrated Pest Management Lab at the Beaverlodge Research Farm for a four month Co-op work term.

So far I have been helping Shelby Dufton, a M.Sc. candidate, process pitfall samples collected during the 2017 field season as part of a multi-year research project examining natural enemies attacking wheat midge. This project assesses the diversity of natural enemies associated with wheat production and will generate new data on both pest and beneficials occurring within the Peace River region.

Processing pitfalls involves retrieving, identifying and counting carabid (ground) beetles, staphylinid (rove) beetles, other beetles, and any arachnids preserved in the sample. Some carabid beetle species are natural enemies of the wheat midge. Others provide free services for farmers by eating other pest insects and weed species. These beneficial beetles offer another management strategy for farmers besides insecticides and resistant crop varieties, thus expanding a farmer's arsenal of weapons to target pests.

This field research study also examines factors such as crop rotations and seeding rates on canopy closure and carabid activity patterns because we hope to identify field situations that potentially preserve or augment ground beetles in wheat.  In addition to the beetles present in the wheat production system, the project also assesses parasitoid levels in the research plots and surrounding commercial fields.  Macroglenes penetrans and two other species of parasitoid wasps were researched then approved for release to control wheat midge in the mid-80 in Saskatchewan.  This study seeks to assess the diversity, density and distribution of these parasitoids within the Peace River region.

So far, this experience has been great and I look forward to learning more about carabid beetles and the challenges facing agriculture on the prairies regarding insect pests.

Figure 1.  Mariah holding a Madagascar hissing cockroach (Grompnadorina portentosa) from
the IPM lab colony (founded by of Paul Coghlin's colony).

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Cutworm lifecycles

Cutworm scouting should target periods when larvae are present and feeding.  Most cutworm species are difficult to identify as moths and the flight period is still difficult to quantify with respect to subsequent cutworm damage or yield losses in most field crops. 

The following generalized cutworm lifecycle chart can be accessed in the recently published "Cutworm Pests of Crops on the Canadian Prairies" (2017 Floate):

The field guide is also available as a free download and contains information for all economically important species of cutworms occurring in field crops grown in western Canada.