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Canola Plants Threatened by Beetle

July 29th, 2015

Canola Plants Threatened by Beetle

The flea beetle can be hard to manage, say farm researchers and agricultural scientists.  Though helpful as biological control for spurge weeds, the beetle also likes to dine on an important crop in Montana and North Dakota in high demand for its oil:  canola.

The scourge of flea beetles comes in cycles, and this year most areas haven’t reached the 15-20 percent threshold of infestation when pesticides are recommended.  At this stage, a few fields do have over 15 percent infestation.

The beetles can reduce yields by eating the canola plant leaves, but their greater threat is in chewing on the root and killing the plant.  Because of a cool, wet spring their numbers are well controlled, but on replanting the warmer weather has attracted more of them.

The unusually moist spring also means the plants themselves have fewer defenses, however, because they are growing later after soil and air temperatures rise.  Since canola hybrids are often exposed to a seed treatment, young plants are protected up the four-leaf stage.  But in years where the plant’s growth is slowed due to climate, the insecticide isn’t taken up as quickly.

Seed treatments only project for the first 25 days, at which point the flea beetle is no longer dissuaded.

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