Spring is FINALLY here

This past week I was out doing some alfalfa scouting and collected a lygus bug that just seemed “off” and an alfalfa looper that appeared to be in its final instar.  I brought back the lygus just to observe it and the next morning, there was a fly pupa in the container with it.  The maggot had emerged from the lygus during the night causing the lygus to die.  As for the alfalfa looper, I was hoping to have it pupate so I could see the adult moth, but after a single day of making its cocoon, a parasitic wasp larvae emerged.  So there will be no adult moth to see but instead about 50 little parasitic wasps.  I was also finding parasitized aphids throughout all the fields sampled.  These are just 3 examples of how nature aids in the control of our crop pests.  I could go on and on because I find it very fascinating, but there is actual work to be done.  Feel free to contact me if you want to know more about Biocontrol options, or crop scouting opportunities.

Lisa Brain, Entomologist (509) 731-4486.

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Meeting Updates

As promised, the long awaited follow up to last month’s newsletter.  A brief update on the two insect related meetings I attended recently. 

Biocontrols West Conference, March 14 - 15 in Portland, Or.  

This was the first time that I have had a chance to attend this meeting, and it was focused on the use of Biostimulants in agriculture that can boost plant growth along with the use of Biological Control Agents for pest management.

 The conventional wisdom in regards to Biostimulants, is that they will make the plants stronger by activating some sort of response allowing them to fight off infections or even insect damage.   There are currently many choices and many of them claim to be the best, so make sure you do your research and ask the tough questions when choosing a product.  They are NOT all created equal.  Many of these products are OMRI certified, which can be a good choice for many organic growers. We do have some experience and may be able to provide some insight.   

The use of Biological Control Agents to aid in pest management has been used for years in the valley.  Many of you have utilized beneficial insects like lady beetles, stethorus beetles, green lacewings, trichogramma wasps, and even predator mites to aid in pest control.  Beneficial insects can be generalist predators, feeding on a wide array of pests to the more specialized predators that tend to be more particular with what they feed on.   As with the above Biostimulants, it is very important to know your pest and the beneficial you need for managing that pest.  Do your research and ask questions as most of the insectaries are staffed by very knowledgeable individuals.    *Beneficial insects and predator mites will typically NOT 100% clean up a pest population as that would eliminate their food source, but they can help manage an already low population.  The key to using beneficial insects is to start early before there is an infestation, which allows for their population to increase in response to the pests. 

Entomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch Meeting, March 31 – April 3 in San Diego, Ca.

The ESA is a place for university researchers, undergrads, master students and PhD students to share their work (and get some sun in San Diego).  The projects shared covered a wide range of entomology, of which many were agriculture related and some human related.  This meeting was overloaded with information with not enough time to take it all in, but I tried to focus on attending the meetings that are going to be directly related to my work in pest management in agriculture. 

Of interest is the ESA’s recent response to recent published studies that report significant decreases in worldwide insect populations.    

“On the Fate of insects, Most Troubling is How Much is Still Unknown” 

Why do we attend meetings?

As crop consultants in an ever changing world it is important to stay informed on the many new innovative ideas and products available.  This allows us to provide quality evaluations and data that in turn aids growers in their farming practices.  This follows our company motto: “Measuring Crop Needs for Greater Profits.” 

Lisa Brain, Entomologist

The bug days of winter

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The insects are just as anxious as we are for winter to be over.

As an entomologist, I start longing for warm sunny days filled with insect collecting, especially when all I see while I look out my office window is snow still on the ground as we come into the second week of March. 

I know I am not the only one ready for this weather to take a turn for springtime.  I am sure each and every one of you are already feeling like you are behind on field work, as most of the fields are still hidden beneath some white stuff. 

During these winter month, we at Agrimanagement take the time to attend industry meetings for the many crops grown in our region.  Some of these meetings take us as far away as Savannah, Georgia, where David and Ethan attended this year’s National Association of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC).  This month I will be attending a couple of insect related meetings; later this week I will be in Portland for the Biocontrols Conference USA West, then at the end of the month it will be the Entomological Society of America (ESA) Pacific Branch meeting in San Diego, California.   These meetings help keep us informed and up to date on many of the new exciting things happening within the world of agriculture.  More about these two meetings will be shared at a later date. 

I am looking forward to serving your pest management needs in this new growing season here with Agrimanagement, assuming the snow melts eventually.   

Lisa Brain

The Meaning of Being Independent

Agrimanagement, Inc. continues to hold firmly to the principal of independence.  We do not sell  ag-products, nor do we make any commission on ag-product sales.  Though we are independent of product sales, we do value interdependence and collaboration with growers and others in the ag industry.

Since 1965 Agrimanagement has offered services using ag-science principals, techniques, technology, and experience to provide relevant recommendations and information in a timely manner that benefit growers.

Being independent means that our services are offered on a fee basis.  Our fees are always up-front and clear which we believe helps Agrimanagement achieve a higher standard of transparency in business. We are members of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC) and are bound by a defined Code of Ethics, which can be viewed at naicc.org

On the issue of transparency, this past Friday the Washington State Legislature quickly passed Senate Bill 6617, which provides significant exemptions to the Public Record Act.  In January, a Thurston County Supreme Court Judge ruled that records held by individual Washington State Legislators are subject to public disclosure, just as they are for local governments, state agencies, and the Governor's office.  However, the Legislature's actions disagree with current public disclosure and transparency laws.

Since all legislators are elected and represent the people that voted them into position, doesn't it seem appropriate for the people to know how they are being represented?  Whatever side you may be on, it is good to let our legislators know what we think (leg.wa.gov ).
 

Current Outlook of Snowpack

Snow in the mountains is one of the life-lines to our valley.  Not only does it provide plenty of winter activities, it provides irrigation water for our crops.  Every year, we hope for sufficient snow in the mountains and this year has not disappointed.  While we don't have as much snow as last year, we do have a favorable snowpack, and depending on spring weather, we have the opportunity for ample supply.

The three-month weather outlook (March-May) from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is predicting an above average probability for below normal temperatures, along with normal to above-normal precipitation. So, what started out as an early year, may end up being fairly normal. 

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TerrAvion & Agrimanagement

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Agrimanagement is excited to partner with TerrAvion to provide an affordable and quality field imaging service for growers. TerrAvion coordinates manned flights throughout Central Washington and Northern Oregon on a subscription basis throughout the growing season. This allows growers to have an up-to-date picture and analysis of all of their fields.  

Growers have instant access to their data via TerrAvion's web portal and mobile app. This allows both the grower and our field scouts the ability to accurately pinpoint and address problems within the field in a timely manner.   

To the right is an example of how thermal imagery can be used to spot a clogged emitter early on in the season. For more imformation about rates and services, please contact Scott Stephen.