Weisz says cereal beetle is likely to be a problem this year and there are two strategies for managing this pest.

One is cheap: adding a recommended insecticide to your January-February fertilizer application. Basically, you have the cost of the insecticide. The advantage is that it’s cheap, the disadvantage is that the insecticide may be gone by the time cereal beetles become a problem.

“A bigger problem with this strategy may be that you don’t know you have the problem, until defoliation shows up and there is a good likelihood that there will be a yield loss.

“My suggestion is don’t put the top-dress and the insecticide on in February. Delay the top-dress as long as possible to get best cereal leaf beetle control, but get it out before jointing starts in the wheat,” Weisz says.

The third week or so of April is a better time to apply an insecticide only if needed. This strategy can save a lot of money, because in many cases cereal leaf beetle won’t appear in some fields.

The downside is that there is extra cost in scouting and in some cases there may some damage to the crop from running a sprayer through it in April.

In the long-run, the cost of these two strategies is about the same. Likewise, the risk factors are about the same, but regardless of which course of action a grower chooses, they should scout that third week in April to determine whether they missed insects with the early spray and to be sure they need to spray with a dedicated spray in April.

“Despite the late harvest of most crops, it appears the wheat crop in the Carolinas and Virginia was planted in a timely manner. So, in North Carolina, wheat seems to be progressing well, despite the extra rainfall in much of the state,” Weisz says.

As usual, expectations are high, despite the low prices for wheat, and how the year goes will likely be decided in part by how well growers were able to cope with the loss of nutrients from the 2013 cropping season.

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