8 Point Plan for CSFB Management
Over the past twenty years the industry has relied upon seed treatments and foliar insecticides to contain Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) but with their loss and/or reduced performance, cultural techniques are becoming far more important.
The following eight measures should be used together, in an integrated approach, to deliver the best chance of growing a successful crop.
1. Consider Rotation Choices
- Broaden rotations to 1 year in 5 or more.
- Consider block cropping to isolate your new crop from old stubbles.
- Look at sacrificial headlands (e.g. turnip rape) to limit pest movement.
- Leave rape volunteers in neighbouring fields to act as a diversionary food source.
2. Avoid Green on Brown
- Drill into tall straw (20 cm), chaff or into green cover
- Camouflage the crop and confuse the beetle
3. Moisture not calendar date
- If there is no moisture it is best to delay drilling.
- Use minimal soil disturbance to conserve moisture.
- Early drilled crops cope better with adult damage but carry higher larval numbers.
4. Rapid Growing Varieties
- There is no genetic resistance to cabbage stem flea beetle.
- Select varieties with faster growth rates in autumn and spring.
- Larger plants are more resilient to the effects of larval infestation.
- Use normal seed rates as higher seed rates can often be counterproductive.
5. Soil Conditions and Crop Nutrition
- Check soil conditions are optimal for early growth with adequate levels of macro and micro nutrients, including boron.
- Apply seedbed nitrogen (30kg/ha) and phosphate (40kg/ha), ideally in bands, to stimulate roots to grow.
- Use ammonium nitrate, DAP or Agrii-Start OSR, which is specially formulated by Agrii.
- Alternatively use organic manures like chicken muck or digestate to give the crop an early boost.
6. Companion and Nurse Cropping
- Companion crops appear to discourage the pest, reduce egg laying and overall larval numbers.
- Buckwheat is the most widely tested, but vetches and berseem clover can be used.
- Buckwheat can scavenge for phosphate and release this back to the growing crop.
7. Seed and Foliar Biostimulants
- Use primed seed or Take Off OSR seed treatment as an establishment aid.
- Apply a foliar mix of macro and micro nutrients at the two-leaf stage to boost the crop further.
8. Monitor Crops and Use Spray Thresholds
- Check for shot-holing and use yellow traps to assess pest pressure.
- Foliar insecticides provide only a weak tool to fall back on.
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