AUSTRALIA - Growers are being urged to check for establishment pests before planting this year's summer crops.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) Senior Development Extension Officer Kate Charleston said crops were most susceptible to insect pest damage at the seedling stage.
"Pests feeding on seedlings can reduce plant establishment, increase weed competition, delay flowering and lower yields," Ms Charleston said.
"In some cases, there may even be a need for re-sowing."
Ms Charleston said that a good pest management strategy required a combination of identification and monitoring activities with knowledge of paddock histories to give farmers an idea of what might be lurking in the soil.
"Since different insects require different control measures, the species of soil insects posing a threat to the crop must be identified before planting," she said.
"Most of the establishment pests found in the northern cropping region are soil-dwelling insects that can be difficult to detect prior to sowing.
"Pre-sowing pest checks can be done by taking random soil samples with a spade across the field and sorting these samples by hand to detect insect pests.
"Spade samples should be deep enough to take in the moist soil layer, as many soil insects inhabit this interface between dry and moist soil.
"Germinating seed baits can also be an effective method for monitoring the presence of wireworms, earwigs and wingless cockroaches.
"Although monitoring for soil insects may seem time consuming, not knowing the potential risk may be more costly in the end if re-sowing is required.
"If pest damage occurs after sowing, no control treatment is available, other than re-sowing bare patches with an insecticide treatment."
TheCropSite News Desk