Weather is perfect breeding ground for pests

“Field operations have slowed, so what better time than now to step into the grain store and prepare for harvest,” says Mark Hemmant technical manager for Agrovista.

“Unfortunately, recent damp conditions make the perfect breeding ground for pests and fungi, making a thorough grain store clean just as important as ever. It might seem as though we are talking about this ahead of schedule, but for best practice, cleaning two months before harvest is optimum for efficacious control.

Start by cleaning walls, floors and roof spaces, paying attention to ledges, corners and areas where dust and debris accumulate. Don’t forget to clean ducts, driers and grain handling equipment, followed by burning of all sweepings.

Primary storage pests can survive on grain residues from the previous year so will infest new grain following harvest. Therefore, it’s important to maintain good store hygiene.

If you’ve experienced historical pest infestations, then a preventative structural treatment is advised, at least six weeks prior to grain being loaded into store. With the loss of chlorpyrifos, options for this are limited. 

We advise the use of two products – cypermethrin/piperonyl butoxide (Talisma EC®) and deltamethrin/piperonyl butoxide (K-Obiol®). Both are effective on beetles and weevils and are flexible options as they can also be applied curatively to grain itself. Interestingly, both contain piperonyl butoxide as this is a synergist, improving the efficacy of the accompanying active ingredient. 

Smoke generators can also be used, but only in conjunction with a structural treatment as detailed above. They work by agitating inaccessible pests, encouraging them to move to treated areas. This improves the performance of the previously applied structural treatment but remember, grain stores must be empty for this.

We recommend either pirimiphos-methyl (Actellic® Smoke) or cypermethrin (Phobi Smoke), with both having efficacy against mites, which is now even more important without chlorpyrifos.

If you’re lucky enough to escape a regular insect pest infestation, then place pheromone traps every 5m within the store and only treat if activity is detected.

Other tasks to tick off during your store clean are to check for any structural damage, both in terms of building leaks and potential rodent entry. Ask yourself is the store dry and well-ventilated?

Safe, effective grain storage is key in ensuring crop quality and helping to prevent potential rejections from contaminations. Although preparation is only one step in the process, having a strong start will help to mitigate any risk.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.