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`BUGGY’ HAY CONCERNS MILLARD FARMERS

SHARE `BUGGY’ HAY CONCERNS MILLARD FARMERS

California fumigation requirements for hay that is shipped to that state are causing concern among farmers in west Millard County, but Utah officials are working to solve the problem.

The cause of the concern is a heavy infestation of cereal leaf beetle. One truckload of hay was recently stopped at the California port of entry west of Reno and was denied entry into California because the state canceled its "free status" policy of accepting some types of hay.The beetle apparently doesn't affect alfalfa, the principal agricultural export of the west Millard County area. It is exempt from California fumigation requirements.

But officials in California want grass hay and hay from small grains to be treated, according to Allen Clark of the state's Division of Plant Industry.

Dick Wilson, Utah's director of the Plant Industry Division of the state Department of Agriculture, said instructions have gone out to agricultural leaders in the Delta area regarding brands of fumigants and treatment levels that will meet the California requirements.

"These products are available to certified commercial and private pesticide applicators at farm supply stores in the Millard County area," he added.

Wilson said information about treating hay and grain that has been affected by the leaf beetle is also available from commercial fumigators, county Extension Service offices or the department's field representative, Roland Murdock, telephone 864-4377.

Cereal leaf beetles were first seen in Utah in 1984. They reduce yields, add fumigation costs to farmers' expenses, and harm the environment by requiring more pesticide use.

The small, metallic blue and red insects hibernate over the winter as adults. Female beetles lay up to 300 eggs each, hatching as larvae during May. They resemble small slugs with mucus on the backs.

The larvae feed for about two weeks, giving plants a frosted look. They then go into the ground in the pupa stage for another 10 days to two weeks until they emerge as adults.

The pests eat about 3 1/2 times their body weight as adults before hibernating to start the cycle all over again, Wilson said.