Monday, July 6, 2009

Exploding Weevils! EOSF#8

We hate weevils here. With a passion. All my kids know what they look like and what to do to them when they find one. Squish it. Dead. Really dead. These bugs are incredible. The summer we collected the 25,000 or so of them I left some in a bucket in the greenhouse. With no holes. All winter. Temperatures were freezing all winter. -10 or so. And they were alive the next spring.
So how do we kill them?
My research showed that biological control in the form of parasitic nematodes was a viable option. (The microscopic nematodes - and yes we all had a look - invade the grub by swimming in mouth or anus, multiply and explode out to find more grubs to infect, sounds perfect eh?) I pushed and pushed and pushed. Hubby did a bunch of research. Richard Cowles made some recommendations. We ordered one BILLION, yes ONE BILLION, nematodes to spray on our fields. Conditions have to be right. Not too cold, grubs in the soil for the nematodes to infect and nice wet weather after spraying. Sunlight kills them so spraying should be done at night. Picture farmer lady sitting on the back of the tractor, in the dark, with a flashlight and a spraying wand between her legs with the PTO spinning (very dangerous) with hubby driving tractor up and down each and every row for 6 hours in the dark on a rainy evening in September. Sore sore butt. Cold cold mama.
Conditions were PERFECT. We were ecstatic. And 2 days later it got hot and didn't rain for 4 weeks. We found no infected grubs.
We ended up ploughing in one field that was only 2 years old as we could see it was severely affected even in September.....
Will we try again? I hope so, I haven't started the campaign yet. I have to lead my dang horse (hubby) to water slowly so he thinks it's mostly his idea ;)
Our fields have NEVER looked better, we have NO dead spots this year. NONE. Every other year there have been patches that were unpickable. 2007, the second year we had the farm was such a downer. It has only improved since then with a direct correlation to the decrease in spraying we do. Go figure. Doh!
Next: Organic fungicides.....our next learning curve!

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