“We see it almost every year in Southern Alberta, but it’s creeping up to Central Alberta, too,” says Harry Brook, crop specialist at the Alberta Ag-Info Centre.
”After the very difficult harvest, there is plenty of wet and damp grain. Variable temperatures are causing grain heating and that attracts grain beetles. That is telling me that people are taking their grain to the elevator and having it turned back because there are live insects in the bin and the truckload of grain.”
There are several ways to deal with insects such as grain beetles. The Farmer Pesticide Certificate provides information on effective and safe use of pesticides. An endorsement is needed to access the grain fumigant Phostoxin.
“But, it can be dangerous which means there are a lot of safety issues around using it,” he explains. “Once it is in the bin, you have to seal it off. It needs temperatures in the grain bin of 12 to 15 C or better before it will activate.”
He adds that if it is colder than that, producers cannot use the fumigant.
“It is not effective, and it can be dangerous because those pellets then don’t break down. It could be an issue later when you’re taking the grain to the elevator.”
He notes that cold weather can provide one of the easiest ways to deal with grain beetles in a bin, but inside temperatures need to be -20 C or lower for up to 2 weeks.
“When it gets down to -20 C, aerate your grain and keep it at that temperature. Keep it at that temperature for 2 weeks, and you will effectively kill off all insects in that bin.”
“Aeration is effective under cold conditions, as it freeze dries the beetles. If the temperatures are only -15 C, keep it down for 3 or 4 weeks, and that will kill them as well. The warmer it gets above -20 C, the longer it takes to kill them, but it does. It is one of the few effective and simple means to control the beetles.”
Learn about the Farmer Pesticide Certificate Program.