UK researchers one step closer to corn earworm control

by Katie Pratt, University of Kentucky

Findings from a University of Kentucky student’s undergraduate research experience could help farmers control one of their most troublesome pests.

Alonna Wright, a junior from Morgantown, Ky., works with a genetically selected, mutant form of a nudivirus. This nudivirus causes a sexually transmitted disease only found in the corn earworm. In one-third of the cases in nature, virus infection results in insect sterility. The genetically selected form causes an insect STD resulting in 100 percent sterility, and as Wright has found, could give a boost to the naturally occurring virus to make it more effective. Continue reading

New Requirements to Address Corn Rootworm Resistance to Bt Corn

In response to signs that the corn rootworm is becoming resistant to single trait Bt products, the Environmental Protection Agency is announcing new, more protective requirements designed to delay corn rootworm resistance to genetically engineered “Bt corn.” Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn produces a Bt pesticide, long used as part of organic farming, as part of the plant itself, to address corn rootworm pests.

When EPA registered Bt corn, EPA ensured that mid-course corrections could be made if additional restrictions on the use of the pesticide were needed to address evolving issues. For example, these corrections could include requirements for additional measures or use restrictions if a specific Bt pesticide begins to lose its effectiveness to kill the corn rootworm. EPA is adding additional requirements to delay pests from becoming resistant.   Continue reading

Bt corn trait selection determines caterpillar pest control

by Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M AgriLife

Newly introduced caterpillar control technology has corn producers weighing the benefits of paying more for multiple toxin Bt corn seed, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service entomologist.

The decision will depend on what pests are in the field, said Dr. Ed Bynum, AgriLife Extension entomologist in Amarillo.

“If you grow corn in the northern Panhandle and traditionally battle western bean cutworm, then the more toxins the better,” Bynum said. Continue reading

Clemson scientists find controls for corn insects

Jim Melvin, Public Service Activities

A cornfield can be an unfriendly host for insect pests, and scientists such as Clemson’s Francis Reay-Jones are striving to keep it that way.

There are almost 275,000 acres of corn planted in South Carolina with an economic impact of approximately $130 million. Though this is dwarfed by Midwest states, such as Iowa (13.7 million acres, $8.75 billion), it’s still a lot of corn — enough, at least, to make a person think South Carolina would be a utopia for the insects that like to feast on tasty yellow kernels.

But instead of being a slice of paradise, a cornfield can be a far-from-optimal host for pests such as the corn earworm.

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EPA seeks public comment to framework to prevent corn rootworm resistance

EPA is seeking public comment on a proposed framework intended to delay the corn rootworm pest becoming resistant to corn genetically engineered to produce Bt pesticides.  The Agency is open to suggestions for alternative approaches that would achieve this objective. The proposed framework includes requirements on the manufacturers of Bt corn including: Continue reading

Resistant armyworm march north is mystery to NCSU specialists

By Matt Shipman, North Carolina State University

In fall 2013, Dr. Dominic Reisig got a phone call from a farmer in rural Hyde County. The farmer was growing corn, and it was literally falling apart in the field. What was going on?

Reisig, an entomologist with NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Cooperative Extension Service, is a sort of science detective who specializes in insects that pose a threat to crops. And the farmer had presented him with a mystery.

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Controlling corn insects in 2013

Most corn insect control decisions are made before the planter hits the field. “Of course, decisions to control stalk borers in non-Bt corn, as well as cutworms and stink bugs in all corn, are made in-season,” says Auburn University entomologist Kathy Flanders.

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Higher Crop Returns Don’t Negate Need for Thoughtful Pest Management

When corn prices suddenly rose dramatically in 2007, Illinois researchers reported that some farmers were willing to do anything to increase their yields. Many of them used products to combat pests that they didn’t even have.

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Researchers Validate Resistance Management Practices for Bt-crops

Crops genetically engineered with the toxin Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been grown in the United States since 1996. Since then, concerns about pest resistance have grown, mainly because of observed resistance of the cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea), a major pest of cotton. According to a 2009 published study in the Journal of Economic Entomology, insect resistance to Bt can be monitored and prevented.

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Are Bt Crops a Silver Bullet or a Looming Disaster?

Cotton growers know the pest as the bollworm. Corn growers call it corn earworm. Tomato growers don it tomato fruitworm. By any name, the pest is Helicoverpa zea, and it’s the first pest to develop resistance to Bacillus thuringiensis.

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