In a 3-year field study, potted plants of ‘Katepwa’ wheat, Triticum aestivum L., were exposed to ovipositing wheat midge. Sitodiplosis mosellana (Géhin), to determine when spikes are most susceptible to damage. After exposure, plants were maintained under controlled conditions for 4 weeks and examined for wheal midge larvae and damaged kernels, ‘Katepwa’ wheat became susceptible to wheat midge damage shortly after spikes emerged from the boot leaf. Location of larvae and damaged kernels within spikes was influenced by the duration spikelets were exposed to oviposition and pattern of anthesis within spikes. In 1992, frequencies of larvae and damaged kernels were 60–90 times higher in spikes exposed to oviposition during advanced heading (stages 57–59, Zadoks’ code) than in those exposed during flowering (stages 61–69). Kernel damage in spikes exposed to oviposition during stages 57–59, 61–65, and 65–70 was 48.5, 3.2, and 0.2%, respectively, in 1993 and 21.2, 1.0, and 0.6%, respectively, in 1994. Data indicated that susceptibility to midge damage declined 15- to 25-fold between heading and early anthesis and 35- to 240-fold between heading and advanced anthesis. Potential factors contributing to these declines and concomitant reductions in larval frequencies are discussed.
Commercial fields of ‘Katepwa’ wheat should be monitored for ovipositing wheat midge throughout heading (stages 51–59) when spikes are most vulnerable to damage. Larval survival and kernel damage were so low after stage 61 that monitoring during anthesis should be unnecessary. Intensive inspection of fields throughout heading would ensure that chemical treatments are applied when they are necessary and most effective.