MSU fights wheat disease as part of six-state collaboration
Zach Miller, an MSU postdoctoral researcher in plant sciences and plant pathology, said the forecasting model that the group plans to develop will encourage more farmers to use Integrated Pest Management. The model will incorporate factors that farmers can manage, such as planting dates, when and how to fertilize, and decisions about wheat varieties and weed management. It will also incorporate factors that are out of farmers' control, such as weather and biology.
Weed management is important because mites and viruses don't just hide in wheat, but in weeds and native grasses, said Extension Croplands Weeds Specialist Fabian Menalled, associate professor in MSU's Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences. Menalled has been working to understand how environmental and biological factors affect wheat streak mosaic. At the same time, he has studied the relationship between non-crop plants and the virus.
Burrows, Menalled and Miller are all members of MSU's wheat streak mosaic team. A fourth member is Irene Grimberg, research associate professor in MSU's Science Math Resource Center.
Grimberg's job will be to develop educational materials that Extension agents and others can distribute throughout the six-state region. Classroom materials will include learning modules based on wheat streak mosaic. They will be aimed at K-12 students in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math.
The four team members will be assisted by MSU postdoctoral students, graduate students and undergraduates.