wheat plants growing in our field

The top 5 pests in wheat crops in the UK

Wheat is a vital crop in the UK, but it faces several challenges from pests throughout its growth cycle. Understanding the common pests and their management strategies is essential for protecting wheat yields. Here are the top 5 wheat pests in the UK:

  • Cereal Aphids

    • Growing Stage: Aphids can infest wheat at various stages, but they are particularly problematic during the early growth stages.
    • Why They Occur: Aphids are attracted to the succulent growth of wheat plants and feed on sap, reproducing rapidly under favorable conditions.
    • Treatment: Insecticides like neonicotinoids or pyrethroids can effectively control aphid populations. Foliar sprays should be applied when aphid populations exceed economic thresholds, focusing on the undersides of leaves where aphids congregate.
  • Slugs

    • Growing Stage: Slugs can damage wheat crops throughout the growing season, from germination to maturity.
    • Why They Occur: Slugs thrive in moist conditions and feed on tender wheat foliage, particularly in fields with high residue or weed cover.
    • Treatment: Metaldehyde-based slug pellets are commonly used to control slug populations in wheat fields. Pellets should be spread evenly across the field, particularly in areas with high slug activity, and application should be timed to coincide with slug activity periods.
  • Orange Wheat Blossom Midge

    • Growing Stage: Orange wheat blossom midge infestations occur during the flowering stage of wheat.
    • Why They Occur: Female midges lay eggs in wheat florets, and the larvae feed on developing kernels, attracted to the blossoms’ scent.
    • Treatment: Insecticides such as pyrethroids or chlorpyrifos can be applied during the flowering period to target adult midges. Timing is critical, and applications should align with midge emergence.
  • Wireworms

    • Growing Stage: Wireworms can infest wheat fields at any growth stage, but they are most damaging during the early establishment phase.
    • Why They Occur: Wireworms are attracted to organic matter in the soil and feed on wheat roots, especially in fields with grassy weed history.
    • Treatment: Soil-applied insecticides containing active ingredients like imidacloprid or chlorpyrifos can be used before planting to target wireworms. Incorporating the insecticide into the soil during seedbed preparation ensures thorough coverage and effective control.
  • Frit Fly

    • Growing Stage: Frit fly larvae attack wheat seedlings during the early growth stages.
    • Why They Occur: Frit flies are attracted to decomposing organic matter in the soil and lay eggs near emerging wheat seedlings.
    • Treatment: Seed treatments containing insecticides such as imidacloprid or clothianidin can be applied before planting to protect emerging seedlings from frit fly damage. Incorporating the insecticide into the soil during seedbed preparation ensures effective control.

Protecting wheat crops from pests is crucial for farmers in the UK to maintain good yields. By having a plan and keeping an eye out for these pests, farmers can keep their crops healthy and ensure they produce well. Staying alert and taking action early is important for successful farming.