Winter cereals

Winter cereals include wheat, barley, oats, canary and triticale.

Insect pest risk

High riskModerate riskLow risk
Soil insectsslugs and snails
  • Some crop rotations (e.g. cereal sown into a long term pasture phase)  increase the likelihood of soil insects.
  • High stubble loads.
  • Above average rainfall over summer-autumn.
  • History of soil insects, slugs and snails.
  • Summer volunteers and brassica weeds will increase slug and snail numbers.
  • Cold, wet establishment conditions.
  • Information on pest numbers prior to sowing from soil sampling, trapping and/or baiting will inform management.
  • Implementation of integrated slug management strategy (burning stubble, cultivation, baiting) in fields with history of slugs.
  • Increased sowing rate to compensate for seedling loss caused by establishment pests.
 Sandy soils.
Earth mites
  • Cereals adjacent to long term pastures may get mite movement into crop edges.
  • Dry or cool, wet conditions that slow crop growth increase crop susceptibility to damage.
  • History of high mite pressure.
Leaf curl mite populations (transmit wheat streak mosaic virus) increase with grazing and mild wet summers.Seed dressings provide some protection, except under extreme pest pressure.
  • Higher risk of barley yellow dwarf virus disease transmission by aphids in higher rainfall areas where grass weeds are present prior to sowing
  • Wet summer and autumn promotes survival of aphids on weed and volunteer hosts.
  • Wet autumn and spring promotes the growth of weed hosts (aphids move into crops as weed hosts dry off ).
  • Planting into standing stubble can deter aphids landing.
  • Use of seed dressings can reduce levels of virus transmission and delay aphid colonisation.
  • Use of synthetic pyrethroids and organophosphates to control establishment pests can kill beneficial insects and increase the likelihood of aphid survival.
  • Low rainfall areas have a lower risk of BYDV infection.
  • High beneficial activity (not effective for management of virus transmission).


Large larvae present when the crop is at late ripening stage.
  • High beneficial insect activity (particularly parasitoids).
  • Rapid crop dry down.
No armyworm present at vegetative and grain filling stages.

Pest incidence

PestCrop stage





Black headed cockchafer (not WA)DamagingPresent
Earth mitesDamagingPresent
Slugs, snails*Damaging
Brown wheat miteDamaging
Helicoverpa armigeraDamaging


PresentPresent in crop but gen­er­ally not dam­ag­ing
Dam­ag­ingCrop sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age and loss.

* Snails are also a grain contaminant at harvest

Key IPM strategies for winter cereals

  • Where the risk of establishment pest (e.g. earth mites) incidence is low, regular monitoring can be substituted for prophylactic seed dressings.
  • Where establishment pests and aphid infestations are clearly a result of invasion from weed hosts around the field edges or neighbouring pasture, a border spray may be sufficient to control the infestation.

Insecticide choices

  • RLEM, BOM, and other mite species can occur in mixed populations. Determine species composition before making decisions as they have different susceptibilities to chemicals.
  • Establishment pests have differing susceptibilities to insecticides. Be aware that the use of some pesticides may select for pests that are more tolerant.
  • RLEM has been found to have high levels of resistance to synthetic pyrethroids such as bifenthrin and alpha-cypermethrin.
  • Helicoverpa armigera has historically had high resistance to pyrethroids and the inclusion of NPV is effective where mixed populations of armyworm and helicoverpa occur in maturing winter cereals.


Further information

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