Managing Pests in Canadian Quinoa

Due to growing demand for quinoa, a gluten-free grain with high nutritional properties, its cultivation has recently expanded from the Prairies, where it has been grown for 24 years, into Ontario.  As the crop’s popularity increases, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers are increasing their efforts on finding effective pest control solutions.

In 2015, during national consultations with growers and producers, managing weeds and insects in quinoa was identified as a priority under the AAFC Pest Management Centre’s Minor Use Pesticide Program. That is why AAFC researchers undertook two projects to evaluate herbicides for weed control, and recently started field trials on safe and effective pest control for beet webworm – an insect that attacks quinoa. Trials for another three insect pests affecting quinoa will begin in 2018.

In addition, scientists at AAFC Saskatoon Research and Development Centre have recently identified an invasive insect attacking quinoa throughout the Prairies – a Eurasian moth called Scrobipalpa atriplicella (von Röslerstamm).  Since invasive species have no natural predators in their new environment, they can spread rapidly and cause billions of dollars in yield losses.  Larvae from this particular invasive pest can feed on quinoa stem, leaves, and seeds which can result in a complete yield loss.

AAFC is taking such threats very seriously and scientists have already summarized distinguishing adult characteristics and the life cycle of this moth, as well as identified its potential host plants and their range in Canada. Further research into this pest and effective ways of controlling it will help maintain and expand sustainable quinoa production in Canada. AAFC’s Pest Management Centre continues to play a vital role in helping Canadian growers protect their crops from the negative impacts of weeds, diseases, and insect pests.

Pest Management Centre; Saskatoon RDC: Dr. Boyd Mori, Dr. Tyler Wist

For more information:

Mori, B., Dutcheshen, C., and Wist, T. (2017). Scrobipalpa atriplicella (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), an invasive insect attacking quinoa (Amaranthaceae) in North America. The Canadian Entomologist, 149(4), 534-539. doi:10.4039/tce.2017.19,

Pest Management Centre. Minor Use Pesticides Program. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada : 2016 “A” Priorities for weeds / growth regulators:; 2016 “A” Priorities for Entomology:;  2017 “A” Priorities for Entomology: