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Grain beetles appear to be on the rise this winter

A jump in inquiries about pesticide certificate program is a sign that grain pests are an issue, says crops specialist

Provincial officials have been fielding more requests this winter for the Farmer Pesticide Certificate Program for renewals or issuing new certificates, and grain beetles are the reason why.

“We see it almost every year in southern Alberta, but it’s creeping up to central Alberta, too,” said crop specialist Harry Brook. “That is telling me that people are taking their grain to the elevator and having it turned back because there are live insects in the bin and the truckload of grain.”

There are several ways to deal with insects such as grain beetles. The Farmer Pesticide Certificate provides information on effective and safe use of pesticides. An endorsement is needed to access the grain fumigant Phostoxin.

“But it’s dangerous, which means there are a lot of safety issues around using it,” said Brook. “Once it is in the bin, you have to seal it off. And, it needs temperatures in the grain bin of 12 C to 15 C or better before it will activate.

“If it is colder than that, you can’t use Phostoxin. It is not effective, and it can be dangerous because those pellets then don’t break down. It could be an issue later when you’re taking the grain to the elevator.”

Cold weather provides one of the easiest ways to deal with grain beetles in a bin, he said.

“When it gets down to -20 C, take your grain with the grain beetles in it, and aerate it down to -20 C. Keep it at that temperature for two weeks, and you will effectively kill off all insects in that bin.”

Aeration under cold conditions freeze-dries the beetles.

“If the temperatures are only -15 C, keep it down for three or four weeks, and that will kill them as well,” said Brook. “The warmer it gets above -20 C, the longer it takes to kill them, but it does. It is one of the few effective and simple means to control the beetles.”

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