Reducing the Threat of Insect Pests in Wheat

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Source: National Association of Wheat Growers

Yield losses to wheat insect pests have steadily increased with increasing virulence of Hessian fly, Russian wheat aphid, greenbug and wheat stem sawfly. At the same time, declining funds and increasing operating costs have signficantly reduced the scope of USDA-ARS insect research and assocated germplasm development. An infusion of funds is needed to combat new insect pests and biotypes, to develop and deploy resistant varieties, reduce production losses and reduce use of pesticides to control these damaging insects.

Reducing damage from insect pests requires integreated approaches and collaborative research specific to each major production region. Genetic resistance remains the most environmentally responsible and effective strategy to control insects such as Hessian fly, Russian wheat aphid, greenbug and wheat stem sawfly. However, new genetic sources of resistance and more rapid, effective screening methods are needed to achieve durable resistance. Also needed is a greater understanding of isnect biotypes, their evolution and the mechanistic basis of insect virulence and host resistance. Long-term solutions may involve biological control agents or changes in cropping systems. 

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