Publications

Autumn survey of wheat bulb fly incidence

Project number 21120003*

Lead Scientist Steve Ellis, ADAS

Start date 01/09/19

End date 31/10/21

AHDB funding £32,000

The problem

With the exception of oats, all cereals can be attacked by wheat bulb fly (WBF). Damage is most frequently reported in winter wheat. The pest is most prevalent in eastern England but numbers fluctuate considerably from year to year. Due to recent withdrawals, chemical control options are limited to seed treatments. The thresholds for treatment are as follows:

> Early-sown winter wheat crops (before November) are unlikely to benefit from seed treatment

> For late-sown winter wheat crops (November to December), seed treatments should be considered where WBF populations exceed 100 eggs/m2

> For late-winter/spring-sown crops (January to March), seed treatments should be considered irrespective of the WBF population size (unless no eggs are present)

*An autumn survey of the pest levels, based on egg extraction from soil samples, has been conducted since 1984. The survey results help the industry make crop management decisions, especially those relating to seed treatments. However, the survey approach is relatively costly and time consuming. As a result, there is a need to identify alternative approaches to assess WBF risk.

The project

This project will support the long-term monitoring of WBF through the traditional autumn survey. The survey involves taking soil samples in September from 30 fields prone to WBF attack (split equally across sites located in the East and North of England) and calculating the number of WBF eggs per square metre. An early indication of risk, based on a subset of sites, is published in September. The final indication of risk, based on all sites, is published in October.

The work will also investigate the potential to predict WBF risk using a meteorological model. A molecular method to detect WBF DNA in soil samples will also be validated as part of the project.

The benefits

The project will indicate the need for seed treatment against WBF. It will also investigate more rapid, lower-cost monitoring methods. If an indication of WBF risk can be provided earlier in the autumn, better decisions on seed treatment, sowing date and seed rate could be made.

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