Impact of climate change can mean more, not less pests

Paying attention to the impact of changes in weather patterns and climate is another variable producers will have to follow, according to an observer who has seen what has happened in Europe.

Patrice Selles, CEO of biocontrol innovator Biotalys and a veteran international agricultural executive, said his company works with fruit and vegetable growers because of the crucial link between not only moisture but also heat and cold because those crops are sensitive as there is also a link to pests and fungi.

Selles also knows from a practical standpoint changes in climate also impacts traditional crops grown in the High Plains.

“We lack the consistencies of the seasons,” he said is what his group is finding in central Europe, and those findings are showing similar characteristics in fruit and vegetable growing regions in the United States.

Mild winters means that files and other insects may not be killed off during the winter plus they can do much more damage earlier in the growing season and that not only impacts production it can also increase earlier activity of insects.

“Nature used to be more predictable but you see changes in the crop production,” he said. “Whatever the crop, you have to keep track of insect pressure.”

Farmers and ranchers understand there are consequences when weather patterns depart from historic averages, he said.

“Whether you believe or not in climate change, farmers already know they have to face more challenges than ever before and with proper management they can help mitigate some of the pressures,” Selles said.

What he has seen fruit and vegetable growers face in Europe and in the growing regions in the United States should be a reminder for fall and spring producers, too.

Selles said input management will be helpful to growers as they plan ahead for a growing season full of uncertain variables. He credits the agricultural industry for understanding how insecticides and fungicides help producers.

Biotalys provides assistance with the increases in chemical resistance and safety concerns that have also occurred with protein-based biocontrol solutions.

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Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].