Might there be Mites? (again)

Might there be Mites? (again)

Winter grain mites (see picture)  maybe starting to show up in producers’ wheat fields. Dry weather is conducive to their ability to build up a high enough population to damage wheat yields and most of our area (Oklahoma Mesonet) has gone 40 to 70 days without receiving a quarter inch of moisture.

I have been hesitant to post about this because the presence of these insects is most often erractic.  One field may have them at a population damaging to wheat and the field next to it or across the road will not.  So, everyone probably, most likely, will NOT have a mite problem, but......

Symptoms of their presence show up as reduced growth and vigor, a “graying or silver” cast to the wheat, and finally at a high enough population a browning out of the leaves.  They do their damage at night and do it by piercing and disrupting the cells of the plant.

They are best seen under magnification at the base of the plant or just below the surface of the soil. Or take a white sheet of paper in between rows and knock the plants around, then if you see what looks like hundreds of periods (.) moving on the paper, they may be mites.

The whole problem could go away with one decent half inch rain.

 To add to the uncertainty is the fact that there is no real known economic threshold and there doesn’t seem to be any certain labeled insecticide to control them in wheat.

However, if they get bad enough a chemical control, even if partial, may be warranted.

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