Thursday, October 8, 2009

Knowing what bugs you

Know what really bugs you is a necessary skill for survival in the farming game! Not knowing what the true "bug" is can lead to faulty decisions and costly expenditures. To add to the complexity of correctly identifying what is bugging you - there is often a disconnect from the pretty moth that flies by and the armyworm eating your wheat heads and flag leaves. Next spring OSU specialists are offering a Insect Identification Train-the-Trainer Short Course. For more information see the Insect ID webpage.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wheathead Armyworm -the Real Thing!

After looking since June, we have found our first "true" Wheathead Armyworm moth of the year in our insect traps in wheat fields near Helix, Oregon. The last couple of weeks we have found a couple of "false" Wheathead Armyworm moths, BUT at last we have the true one.
This identification of the moth has been confirmed by Silvia Rondon, OSU Extension Specialist, Hermiston, Oregon and Peter Landolt, USDA ARS Research Leader, Wapato, Washington.
After a summer of trapping and collecting insects from our traps it is exciting to find it. It feels like hitting a home run, or at least a triple.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Fall flight of armyworm moths continue

One was still our number this week for "false" wheathead armyworm moths. We will continue to collect for about 3 more weeks to see if the level remains the same, increases or drops.
Fall seeding continues in our area, as growers prepare the fields, hoping to catch the early seeding window. Cool temperatures forecasted for the long Labor Day weekend should help. It looks like many local farmers will follow our family tradition of laboring over Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fall flight of Wheathead Armyworm moths begins?

Last week I found a "false" Wheathead Armyworm moth (1)in a pheromone trap near Helix, Oregon. This is the first moth I have seen since last June. I will continue to monitor the traps through September to see if we do indeed get a fall flight of moths as literature suggests is possible.

Fall seeding of winter wheat has starting here in northeastern Oregon, along with some forest fires and blazing sunsets.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Skeletonweed..the silent invasion

Rush Skeletonweed, a perennial weed, continues to invade new areas in Umatilla County. I looked at a small patch of Skeletonweed near Athena, Oregon this week. Almost 25 years has passed since I was involved in the first sighting of Skeletonweed in our county. While it has not spread as quickly as we first thought it would, it has continued to move into new areas over the years.
Perennial weeds will likely be an increasing threat as we reduce the amount of tillage in our production system. Also as we plant perennial buffers along waterways and streams, perennial weeds like Canada Thistle, Russian Knapweed and Skeletonweed will likely get established and require more attention. For more information on weeds and their control visit the following sites: and the Pacific Northwest Weed Management Handbook.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wheat Varieties - Selecting for the Current Conditions

Selecting a variety best suited for your location, field conditions and production system is a yearly challenge for growers. Not very many years ago, most times for a soft white winter wheat – Stephens was the hands-down favorite. Now we have many more choices of both public and private varieties. Selecting the right variety is about minimizing your risk from crop diseases and stress why maximizing one’s yield potential.

Last fall all four locations of the Umatilla County Variety Drill Strip Trials were seeded into dry conditions. The seeding dates were from October 1st to October 20th. These dry conditions continued into late October and plants were slow to germinate and went into the winter fairly small. Given these conditions, it was Goetze that preformed well. Goetze was the highest yielding at three sites (Straughan, Woodward, and CTUIR).

Goetze is a newer release from OSU and is adaptable for our area but has a risk for damage from cold temperatures. Goetze is a wheat that needs little or no chilling for to initiate flowering. Testing suggests that it is similar to the variety Gene. For additional information on Goetze, see OSU publication – EM8957-e found online at

For some areas of the county, this year may present an opportunity to seed early. Early seeding can result in higher yields when seedbed moisture is adequate. However, crop diseases such as Cephalosporium stripe, strawbreaker (eyespot) footrot, Fusarium crown rot, and Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus can be problems. Variety seeding date studies conducted by OSU Cereal Specialist, Mike Flowers, in 2006 and 2007, show that Tubbs06 and ORCF -102 may be the better choice for early seeding. These varieties have a good disease resistance package along with cold tolerance to maximize yield.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Harvest wraps up

Harvesting my field research trials was complete as of last Friday afternoon as we were able to harvest at Hales Farms near Midway Elevator. Mark, Jake and Jules were gracious cooperators as always.
Results for all the trials are available at Monday I tested grain samples from the variety drill strip trials for proteins and test weights. Test weights ranged from 57 lbs to 60 lbs/bushel.
It feels good to have harvest completed. A few farms are still finishing up in the area, as a record setting rainfall on August 6-7th kept many combines idled last week waiting for grain moisture levels to return to below 12%.
I want to thank all my cooperators for their dedication to doing on-farm research that is of great value not just for their farm but many neighboring farms and even the region. It is rarely convenient and always requires some extra effort on their part to make these trials happen.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Drill Strip Variety Trials show newer varieties boost yield

Drill strip variety trials give growers the opportunity to see new wheat varieties in local fields at a scale closer to normal production. The plots are normally 40 ft. wide by 600-700 ft. long.

The plots are established in the fall using the grower's drill, and then harvested the following summer with the grower combine.

A weigh wagon is used to measure the bushels produced in each plot, and yields are calculated on the tailgate of the pickup in the grower's fields.

Today's harvest was near Athena, Oregon in a direct seeded field. The yields are as follows:

Jim Straughan Farm, harvested August 6, 2009

Variety Bu/Ac
Goetze 69.4 bu
ORCF101 69.5 bu
ORCF102 66.6 bu
Skiles 63.5 bu
Stephens 67.2 bu
Tubbs06 62.3 bu

Monday, August 3, 2009

Harvest Heatwave continues

Harvest and the heatwave continue into a new week. We harvested the final harvest of the Fallow Systems study last week at Newtson Farms. Results were similar to previous years' data, with no surprises.
I have added some wheat harvest pictures and a few hot looking sunset photos to my photo site on Shutterfly. Take a look and enjoy!
Stay cool if possible...if not possible drink lots of water!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Drill Strip Variety Trial Results

I will be posting the Umatilla County Drill Strip Variety Trial results as I harvest them on this blog. A full summary will go out in my Cereal Newsletter in late August but these numbers will give you a snapshot of what we are seeing in the local harvest so far.

Woodward Farms, near Myrick Elevator, harvested July 17.

Variety Bushel/Ac
  1. Skiles 63.1
  2. Goetze 68.4
  3. ORCF102 63.3
  4. Stephens 63.8
Confederated Tribes of Umatilla, south reservation area, harvested July 23.

Variety Bushels/Ac
  1. Skiles 57.8
  2. Goetze 63.7
  3. ORCF 101 63.3
  4. ORCF 102 59.1
  5. Tubbs 06 60.7
  6. Stephens 58.2
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Wheathead armyworm - True or False

As wheat harvest roars into full gear, I continue to moniter the wheathead armyworm traps - not for lack of anything to do, but we are curious if or when we may get a second flight of adult moths. Our plan is to continue to collect weekly through mid September.

Peter Landolt, USDA ARS entomologist, has raised an interesting question about the identification of the armyworm that we have been seeing in our local fields. Silvia Rondon and I will be working closely with Peter to confirm that we have been collecting moths that are not the true wheat head armyworm but a "false" wheathead armyworm.

The two are closely related, but the one that we collected this year Peter has identified as Faraonta terrapicathlis not Faronta diffusa as we previously reported. This photo shows a picture of the moths we have collected earlier this summer. Several other moth species have been collected, and we are making a collection of the moths, and other insects attracted to our traps.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wheathead armyworm counts virtually nonexistent

Wheathead armyworm counts have been virtually nonexistent for the past two weeks, both as adult moths and larvae. Reports from Washington State are similar. There is no concrete answer to why populations of this insect pest have nose-dived this year compared to 2008 and 2007.

The only insects that I found today were some ladybugs in a nearby spring wheat field.

Harvest is expected to get underway in the next 7-10 days in the area as the winter wheat fields are turning golden, and wheat kernels are past the dough stage in development.

If anyone finds wheathead armyworms on their wheat, please contact me as we are still trying to collect larvae for identification and research purposes!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wheathead armyworm counts low it was cold and windy here in eastern Oregon, as I visited the wheathead armyworm traps for my weekly collection. There was only one moth in all the traps, so we have a continuing trend of very low moth counts for the third week in a row. Perhaps this is the year that things will take a turn for the better!

We also did sweeping with an insect net, looking for armyworm larvae. Only 1-2 larvae per 10 sweeps were found.
This monitoring program will continue as we are now on the countdown toward harvest. Hopefully, the low numbers will continue!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wheathead armyworms emerging

Yesterday's collection from the wheathead armyworm survey traps found zero (0) moths. As expected the larvae are starting to emerge, and are still relatively small.

Fields sweeping (10 - 180 degree sweeps) with an insect net resulted in finding some wheathead armyworm larvae at each site:

  • Site 1 - 1 armyworm
  • Site 2 - (in an adjacent field) 20 armyworms
  • Site 3 - 2 armyworms

Here are a few tips for scouting:

  1. Larva fed at night, and drop to the ground during the day, so scout in the late evening or early morning for the most accurate results,
  2. Scout at various locations throughout the field, as populations are often higher along the field edges,
  3. Larva will vary in color from greenish to cream and have white and brown stripes down the length of their bodies.

We do not have any solid research to show at what level populations becomes economical to treat with insecticides. There are various insecticides available with pre-harvest intervals ranging from 30 days to a little as 7 days. Read and follow label directions before selecting an insecticide, and/or applying.

In other wheat-growing states, this pest has not been a significant problem, nor stayed around long enough to develop any research to establish treatment thresholds. We are now into our third year of seeing this pest, and hope that it will not become a significant problem beyond this localized outbreak. Field monitoring and scouting remain our best option for making good management decisions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wheathead moth counts for June 3- June 10

The numbers of moths have dropped dramatically over the last week, June 3 - June 10. Last week I reported in moths/day. With moth numbers at less than 1/day, I will just give the total numbers.
Total moth counts over the 8 days:
  • Site 1 - 1 moth
  • Site 2 - 3 moths
  • Site 3 - 6 moths
We are not sure if we are dealing with one flight or more. We will continue to collect weekly up to mid July.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Armyworm survey shows lower moth counts

I collected from the wheathead armyworm traps yesterday in the Helix area. There were very few moths in any of the traps this week. I will post the counts as soon as the numbers are confirmed by our entomologist, Silvia Rondon.
Last week's numbers were
  • Site # 1 near Myrick Rd - 19/day;
  • Site # 2 off Harper Rd - 12/day; and
  • Site 3 on field road 1 mile west of Helix - 13/day.
These counts were in the pheromone traps. The traps using a different attractant were low at 3 per trap total.
Under our current weather conditions, we expect to see larva emerging over the next week. If anyone finds larva when scouting their fields please post your findings to the blog or call my office with the information.
I will be collecting larva to rear again this year as there are questions emerging about if there are two species present and we hope to clarify that issue this season.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wheat head armyworm (Faronta diffusa) survey

I collected moths from the armyworm traps on Tuesday. The pheromone traps seemed to be more effective at attracting our target species wheat head army worm (Faronta diffusa) than the attractant traps. There were more moths in them and less other insects or moths. Yesterday we had thunderstorms and a hard rain. I will go and check the trap conditions later today to see if they are still intact. More thunderstorms in the forecast for today.
I am not seeing any armyworm larvae yet. I did find low numbers of leafy feeding sawflies in one location near Myrick, Oregon. (2 larvae per 10 sweeps.)

If the populations of army worms reaches a significant population to damage wheat heads there are several control options. Preharvest intervals (PHI) are a concern and should be carefully followed. One option, zeta cypermethrin (Mustang Max) has a wheat only label, is known to be effective on armyworms in general, and has a 14 day PHI. For more recommendations check out the online version of the Pacific Northwest Insect Management Handbook.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wheathead armyworms vs. Leaf feeding sawflies

Silvia Rondon, OSU specialist in Hermiston, Oregon, reports that leaf feeding sawfly larvae are being brought into her lab for identification. There are distinct differences between the two larvae which centers around how many "legs" they have.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wheathead Armyworms

Yesterday, Nick Parker and I set out 3 sets of traps to survey for Wheathead armyworm moths near Helix, Oregon. Each site has 2 traps and they are located across the area of wheatfields that has experienced damaging levels of armyworms the past two seasons. I will be visiting the traps weekly, collecting insects and identifying any wheathead armyworm moths. I will post the results weekly over the next few weeks, see keep checking back for updates!

Several wheat fields were significantly impacted by armyworms in 2007 and 2008 in an area north of Pendleton near Helix. The fields have a variety of farming practices used to grow winter wheat that are representive of the area.

This year I also recommend scouting fields as wheat heads emerge for larva.

Here are a few reminders about this pest:

  • More than one generation per year
  • First generation larvae feed on mature wheat heads.
  • Larvae vary in coloration from greenish to cream-colored, with longitudinal white and brown lines down each side of body.
  • Larvae feed on the wheat heads from evening to early morning, typically hanging onto the awns upside down and hollowing out kernels.
  • Larvae rest in the soil at the base of the plant during the day.