Scouting canola fields for flea beetle damage

May 15, 2024

Canola producers will want to monitor crop emergence closely for any signs of flea beetle damage. 

The insect overwinters as an adult and wakes up hungry, with activity increasing as the temperature warms up. 

Canola Council of Canada Agronomist Keith Gabert says the insects can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time, which is why scouting the crop on a regular basis is so important.

The key is to stay ahead of the insect by getting a good emergence and stand establishment with five to eight plants per square foot up and growing vigorously.

He says that's not always the case, so producers want to be scouting often enough to sort of catch any issues that might be arising.

Gabert says producers will want to watch for flea beetle feeding or damage like pit marks or pock marks showing up on the clover shaped cotyledons'.

"Canola that's emerging from the ground can handle a fair bit of feeding 10 per cent damage actually looks quite striking or looks concerning. We do need to remember that the current round of seed treatments require some feeding on the part of the flea beetle, so that gets into their stomach, gets ingested, and gives them a bit of a headache or kills them off at least slows them down enough to let that crop get ahead. We really want to get that canola growing through to about the four leaf stage when any flea beetle feeding that might happen probably won't have an impact on it."

He says feeding damage can advance quickly from 10 per cent to the economic action threshold of 25 percent when producers might want to look at using a foliar insecticide.

"I tell growers to really watch because we can go from 25 per cent action threshold through to a 50 per cent economic damage threshold, where we expect to see some some yield loss happening relatively quickly."

There's already been reports of flea beetles in Northern Saskatchewan

To hear Glenda-Lee's conversation with Keith click on the link below.

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