Over the past few days, I have seen 300+ cabbage looper moths in traps next to fields that aren’t even out of the ground yet, and been texted twice about flea beetle damage. It seems it will be a busy year for brassica pests!
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…An uncommon phrase to hear in agriculture, but recent floods will have a dramatic effect and have already caused an estimated $12.5 billion dollar loss in the Midwest. Impacts include crop damage, inability to access fields to work ground or plant, and water contamination.
Here at home, the mainstem of the Willamette River and its tributaries (Long Tom, Mary’s, Callapooia) are in huge swells, with property flooding and road closures abundant. For current updates, check Benton and Linn County webpages or ODOT TripCheck.
From an insect pest point-of-view, the changes that may come about are uncertain, but I will be keeping a close ‘eye to the ground’. Flooding could cause mortality for some species (onion bulb mite, beetles, sawflies), promote growth in others (armyworms, mosquitoes), and have little effect on bugs that overwinter in sheltered areas (BMSB and ladybugs).
‘Twas a dreary day when I could finally get out to our research farm to assess damage to fields. However, our farm manager is resilient and those that have lived here longer say it’s “not that big of a deal”. I guess when you live in Oregon with 300 days of rain, you make your own mental sunshine.
Flea beetles invade fields rapidly, and can cause substantial damage to newly emerged leaves. Scouting is simple, thanks to the characteristic leaf damage. See photos and learn more here.
Rootworm is the common name for larval Diabrotica beetles. They feed underground, but can be distinguished from maggots by the presence of thoracic legs and a brown sclerotized plate just behind the head.
Cabbage Looper moths continue to be very abundant in the landscape. There is no diapause in this species, so 6-7 generations per year are possible if environmental conditions are suitable. Although trap counts are way above normal, the effect on crops has yet to be determined, and depends on a variety of factors. We will be discussing some of these in the weeks to come.
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