Many Prairie crops did poorly in the high summer temperatures of 2021, but the wheat stem sawfly thrives in such conditions. The beneficial insect populations that prey upon the sawfly were also knocked back by the heat, which has given the cereal pest another leg up. To size up the sawfly situation for the current crop year, GrainsWest spoke with Meghan Vankosky, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada entomology research scientist and co-chair of the Prairie Pest Monitoring Network.
Spring wheat is Western Canada’s most significant crop. In the northern Prairies, though, much of the wheat grown for bread ends up being downgraded due to frost damage. This creates difficulties for farmers at harvest, but also impacts their bottom line. Dean Spaner, a University of Alberta Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences professor, is addressing the problem in a research project funded by the Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC). The initiative will examine early-maturity traits in the hopes of addressing the challenge.