If there was any doubt over the potential threat of flea beetle attacks on establishing oilseed rape without the protection of seed treatments this season, keep an eye on volunteer rape now emerging in stubbles.

The wet and warm soil surface had seen a rapid flush of seedlings, and a feeding frenzy for flea beetle. We have already seen signs of intense pest activity this season (above).

I have also had growers reporting large numbers of flea beetle being seen in trailers when harvesting their remaining oilseed rape, which is possibly an indication of the high pest pressure the new crop will face.

If conditions remain hot and dry after emergence, with any check in crop growth, the damaged small plants can quickly shrivel and die.

Growers are going to have to keep a far closer watch on emerging seedlings this season, and be ready to tackle pests. The leaf damage caused by flea beetle can occur incredibly quickly and be extremely destructive.