Corn pest decline may save farmers money
In addition to investigating the extent of ECB populations and damage in Pennsylvania, the researchers also examined the predictive ability of the PestWatch network, which traps ECB and other moth species and provides data about their prevalence.
"While traps within the PestWatch network provide insight on ECB population size, where moths are active and periods of ECB activity, their utility as a predictive tool, particularly for field corn, has been limited," Bohnenblust said. "We found that ECB moths captured in the PestWatch network correlate well with in-field populations of ECB in field corn, which means that PestWatch data hold potential to inform decisions about whether Bt or non-Bt hybrids are right for growers in different parts of the state."
According to Tooker, growers planting Bt corn hybrids are required to plant set amounts of non-Bt corn as part of a resistance management plan to help prevent evolution of ECB populations that are resistant to the Bt toxins expressed in corn hybrids.
"Based on our results, we would tell growers to scout their non-Bt acreage toward the end of the growing season," he said. "If they have low ECB populations, and PestWatch reflects low moth captures in their area, we would recommend that in the next season they give competitive non-Bt hybrids a try on some of their acres because they could see better profits from growing non-Bt hybrids."
Other authors on the paper include James Breining and John Shaffer, research support assistants in plant science; Shelby Fleischer, professor of entomology; and Gregory Roth, professor of agronomy.
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