• Pest Control
  • Jul 28, 2020

Controlling Insects in Newly Seeded Winter Wheat

Controlling Insects in Newly Seeded Winter Wheat
Eric Hanson
Lindsborg, KS
If insect populations are left unchecked in the fall, they can quickly decimate young wheat plants and seriously impact yield potential. But fortunately there are some ways to keep pests out of your winter wheat crop, and the process begins before you even put seed in the ground.
Remove wheat curl mite host plants
Microscopic wheat curl mites, which survive on volunteer wheat and corn, can infect your crop with wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) if not eliminated before your stand emerges. The disease can cause yield loss of 50 percent or more if it infects a winter wheat crop in the fall.1
Insecticides aren’t effective on this tiny pest, but fortunately you can mitigate it by targeting its food source. Wheat curl mites can only survive 10 days without green leaf tissue, so a burndown application made at least 14 days before seeding winter wheat helps ensure existing mites won’t live long enough to infect the crop.
Use insecticide seed treatments
Another step in controlling insects that occurs prior to planting is selecting the right seed treatment for your acres. If you take a production-minded approach with your wheat crop and manage it like corn, arming your CROPLAN® wheat seed with an insecticide and fungicide treatment is essential. This is especially the case in fields with substantial insect history and no-till acres where higher insect and disease pressure is of particular concern.
We offer four seed treatment options that are designed to decrease seeding rates by helping to improve seedling establishment and minimize the losses in yield and quality – three of which include an insecticide treatment:
  • Warden® Cereals II: a combination of three fungicides.
  • Warden Cereals HR: an insecticide plus two fungicides.
  • Warden Cereals WRII: four fungicides and a high-rate insecticide for enhanced wireworm control.
  • Warden Cereals 360: three fungicides and an insecticide, plus Ascend® plant growth regulator (PGR) to aid in early germination, emergence and root growth.
Every field has different challenges, so consult your locally owned and operated WinField® United retailer to determine which Warden seed treatment is best suited to help improve emergence, stand establishment and overall crop health in your fields.
Scout and protect your crop in season
Several different types of insects are looking to take a bite out of your winter wheat crop every season, so it’s important to stay on your toes by diligently scouting your fields and applying insecticides when necessary.
Top pests to be wary of:
Grasshoppers living off the lush food source provided by nearby alfalfa fields could be a threat to your winter wheat crop when it’s emerging, especially if temperatures are warm this fall. Three or more grasshoppers per square yard within a field can destroy seedling wheat2, so be sure to continue scouting your alfalfa crop if positioned near wheat and spray when necessary. An application of Grizzly® Too insecticide can help hinder their movement to wheat.
Aphids not only feed on wheat, but they can also transmit Barley Yellow Dwarf virus. More than 20 different aphid species can carry the disease3, so consider your area’s history and be diligent in your scouting efforts. A well-timed application of Grizzly Too or Yuma® insecticide can help suppress aphid pressure.
Winter grain mite populations peak around the months of October and March, and sandy, coarse fields are more at risk. A crop will have a stunted, silver-gray appearance from the road when there is significant pressure; Malathion 5 insecticide can provide good control.
 Brown wheat mites are most active in late fall and early spring. They cause stippling of the leaves by piercing plant cells and give the crop a scorched and weathered appearance from a distance. An application of Yuma or Dimate 4E insecticide can help curb this pest.
Armyworms tend to be more of a problem in the spring, but populations can multiply in the fall under warm conditions. These crawlers eat fast and move fast. In fact, one larva can eat about 43 linear inches of plant tissue – 75 percent of that in a 3 to 4 day period. For that reason, you need to spray for them as soon as they show up in your fields. Grizzly Too or Yuma insecticide treatments can be effective in reducing armyworm populations.
Your best line of defense against insects is to proactively seek them out and be prepared to spray for them when necessary. So, in addition to regularly scouting your fields for pests, be sure to talk with your locally owned and operated WinField United retailer and fellow farmers in your area to learn if others are experiencing heavy insect pressure. If they are, it’s likely only a matter of time before populations show up in your fields.
1 “Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus”, www.plantpath.k-state.edu/extension/publications/wheat-streak-mosaic-virus.pdf                  
2 “Wheat Insect Management”, www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/mf745.pdf                  
3 “Barley Yellow Dwarf”, www.cropwatch.unl.edu/plantdisease/wheat/barley-yellow-dwarf
© 2020 WinField United. Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results. Ascend®, CROPLAN®, Grizzly®, Warden®, WinField® and Yuma® are trademarks of WinField United.

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