Winter Wheat Option for Grain Growers Facing Wheat Midge Outbreaks

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North Dakota State University crop protection specialist Dan Waldstein warns of the potential wheat midge infestation for many counties in North Dakota during the 2011 growing season. For producers facing wheat midge problems this year, planting winter wheat for the 2012 season is an option worth considering.

“Wheat midge could be a big problem for some wheat and durum producers in northwestern and north-central North Dakota this summer,” Dan Waldstein said.

North Dakota State University crop protection specialist Dan Waldstein warns of the potential wheat midge infestation for many counties in North Dakota during the 2011 growing season. For producers facing wheat midge problems this year, planting winter wheat for the 2012 season is an option worth considering.

Wheat midge could be a big problem for some wheat and durum producers in northwestern and north-central North Dakota this summer,” Waldstein said. “In some areas, we are seeing the highest numbers of wheat midge since we started soil sampling in 1995. Since varietal resistance is not available to producers, planting date plays a key role in wheat midge management. Planting spring wheat early or late in the season allows producers to avoid wheat midge emergence when wheat is most susceptible, namely during the late heading and early flowering stages. Planting winter wheat is another alternative since winter wheat is past the susceptible stage before wheat midge emerges.”

“If wheat midge does become a major problem for producers this season, they might want to consider adding winter wheat to their rotation for next year,” DU Agronomist Jason Riopel said. “Generally adult midges start emerging in the last week of June and the first week of July. Winter wheat generally flowers June 15-25 and has finished by the time the bulk of the adult midge population emerges in July. Once 80 percent of the heads in a field are flowering, treatment is not recommended. The female midges find newly emerged heads of the later-maturing spring wheat to be a much more attractive place to lay their eggs.”

Besides missing the wheat midge hatch, planting winter wheat has other benefits to producers, including spreading out the workload with fall planting and early harvest. Winter wheat is highly compatible in a crop rotation following canola, avoids wet spring planting conditions, maximizes the use of spring moisture and typically produces 10 to 30 percent more grain, resulting in higher proven wheat yields for crop insurance.

Growers can learn more about growing winter wheat by visiting the new Winter Cereals: Sustainability in Action website, wintercereals.us. “New developments like this are exactly the type of situation where producers will find our website to be an especially valuable resource,” DU Agronomist, Steven Dvorak said.

For more information on WCSIA, visit http://www.wintercereals.us.
For more information about pest management of wheat midge go to http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/pests/e1330.pdf
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