Wheat stem sawfly devastations lead to another conference
Wheat stem sawflies heavily damage more wheat than any other insect in Montana, and now Colorado and Nebraska are experiencing unprecedented outbreaks, says Montana State University entomologist David Weaver.
Continuing to search for solutions, experts from three countries and four states will share their findings at the Sixth International Wheat Stem Sawfly Conference to be held April 3 and 4 at the Procrastinator Theatre in MSU's Strand Union building. The conference is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so people who want to attend are asked to notify the organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org
"We all recognize that problems associated with wheat stem sawfly are dynamic and evolving," Weaver said. "It is a devastating pest with features in its life cycle that make it very difficult to manage. This results in an ability to cause very large economic losses at the level of individual growers through to the large-scale regional impacts in much of the northern and central parts of the wheat belt."
MSU economist Anton Bekkerman, who will give two presentations at the conference, conducted the first formal economic study on the impacts of wheat stem sawfly in Montana. During his talk from 10 to 10:30 a.m. April 3, he will give a 15-year perspective on the damage it caused.
"The high wheat prices observed in 2012 resulted in estimated direct damages of approximately $80.1 million to Montana farmers," Bekkerman said. "What is perhaps equally as important is that these damages implied that nearly 9.7 million bushels of Montana wheat did not reach consumers. This has important indirect economic implications all along the wheat marketing chain."
The estimated expected losses to individual farmers with 2,000-acre operations were between $15,000 and $20,000 for spring wheat producers and $25,000 and $47,000 for winter wheat producers in 2012, Bekkerman said. Winter wheat producers in high impact areas were expected to lose $110,000 and $120,000 per farm.
"In evaluating two widely used management strategies – solid stemmed varieties and swathing – the results indicate that highest long-run economic returns are likely when using a slightly less yielding solid stem variety that minimizes the chances of the sawfly population growing rather than planting higher yielding varieties and swathing, which can increase long-run sawfly populations and exacerbate damage," Bekkerman added.
Other conference speakers will give updates on the southward expansion of wheat stem sawflies and share their findings about biological control, integrated pest management, host plant resistance, the genetics of both wheat stem sawfly and wheat, population monitoring, and chemical ecology.