Wheat midge update in North Dakota
Soil sample tests in North Dakota indicate a decrease in levels of overwintering wheat midge larvae (cocoons) for the 2012 season.
click image to zoom A total of 142 soil samples were collected from 20 counties to estimate the regional risk. The distribution of wheat midge in the 2012 forecast map is based on unparasitized cocoons found in the soil samples collected in the fall of 2011. With only 12 percent of the samples statewide being moderate to high risk for wheat midge infestation, most wheat producers should get a break from insecticide costs.
Although the wheat midge populations fell from last year's high, there still are a few pockets of moderate to high risk that need to be monitored closely in the northwestern and north-central regions of North Dakota. In 2011, wheat midge populations ranged from zero to 1,879 midge larvae per square meter, with an average of 171 larvae per square meter. In contrast, wheat midge populations ranged from zero to 3,750 midge larvae per square meter, with an average of 417 larvae per square meter in 2010.
The decrease in the wheat midge population can be attributed to the wet spring of 2011, which delayed wheat planting until June 5 to June 12 in the northern tier. This was later than the typically early to mid-May planting date and, based on the planting model for susceptibility to wheat midge, was just within the 600 growing degree days, which is the end of the susceptible period of wheat to wheat midge. Late planting dates, after 600 growing degree days, can mitigate midge damage. In addition, a large amount of agricultural acreage went into prevent planting, especially in the northwestern region of North Dakota. This reduced the availability of host crops to wheat midge.
Areas where populations of cocoons exceed 1,200 per square meter are at a high risk for wheat midge infestation in 2012, but accounted for only 2 percent of the samples. These areas include isolated pockets in central Burke and southwestern McHenry counties.
If wheat is planted in these high-risk areas, producers must be prepared to monitor the fields closely for wheat midge infestations and include the cost of an insecticide in their wheat production budget. Otherwise, undetected and uncontrolled infestations may result in significant yield losses. Fortunately, the price of wheat is high, which should make pest management decisions easier for producers.
Wheat midge populations of 501 to 1,200 midge larvae per square meter (moderate risk) account for only 9 percent of the samples. Areas at moderate risk include central Divide, central and southeastern Bottineau, eastern Ward, west-central McLean, southwestern McHenry, northern and southern Pierce, western Rolette and southern Cavalier counties. Areas where populations are above 500 larvae per square meter also will require close monitoring by wheat producers (see scouting section below).