Seed treatments keep cutworms down

Seed treatments keep cutworms down

Seed treatments are an effective way to combat cutworms — and Nathan Rafuse has the pictures to prove it.

As a member of the Co-op Grow Team in North Battleford, Sask., Rafuse, oversees a series of Co-op Innovation Field Trials every season.

In 2016, a number of canola plots became infested with the pests.

“It’s a new thing here, definitely,” said Rafuse, CCA. “Typically cutworms haven’t been a problem, but they definitely arose in 2016 and they didn’t go away this year either. There certainly were some cutworms mowing down canola in different areas around here.”

While his plots weren’t part of a seed treatment protocol, several of the hybrids in the trial had been treated with Lumiderm and Fortenza, two products that are increasingly being used to proactively control cutworms.

As the season progressed, canola treated with only a standard seed treatment was easy to pick out, especially when viewed from above via drone.

“The cutworms destroyed the plots where there wasn’t Lumiderm or Fortenza,” he said. “It was night and day. They pretty much stopped their eating on the line where the seed treatments were used.”

Lesson learned

Rafuse wasn’t alone and many growers in his region had similar experiences with cutworms.

As a result, Rafuse saw a significant uptake in the use of Lumiderm and Fortenza seed treatments ahead of the 2017 growing season — a trend he expects will continue into the future.

“In 2016, they saw what can happen,” said Rafuse. “This plot that I had, where we had all this damage, had perfect seed rows and everything looked healthy. It was in a matter of two days that they destroyed a huge chunk of it.”

Protect your crop

Cutworms can be problematic for canola growers. They feed at night and emerge early in the growing season, putting young seedlings in jeopardy during one of the busiest times of the year.

“This is all happening at seeding time,” said Rafuse.

“I think the extra value that they have from the use of the seed treatment is well worth the investment. Spring is such a busy time of the year that farmers often don’t have time to visit each field often enough to identify and manage an infestation of cutworms before it impacts crop stands and reduces yield potential.”

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