August 26, 2022
Identifying what type of insect or plant disease is affecting your crops is a critical part in forming a response. Making the wrong decision can be costly and may have little to no effect on the issue at hand.
In order to help growers improve their identification skills, plant disease and insect diagnostic specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will have displays of common insects and plant disease issues at this year’s Farm Progress Show.
The samples will be based on the current growing season, and while it is still too soon to know exactly which pests and diseases will be most burdensome this year, the specialists are committed to helping show visitors improve their identification skills.
Microscopes will be available, and visitors can get a close-up view while interacting with specialists who study the same insects and diseases on a daily basis.
“Every year is variable as to what we will actually see,” says Ed Zaworski, plant pathologist with the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic at ISU. “Certain diseases like certain conditions, so we always talk to people about the disease triangle in plant pathology. You need three parts of a triangle to have a disease: the susceptible host, a pathogen and an optimal environment.”
Scouting is key
While farmers have many choices that can help prevent insect and disease issues, no system is ever foolproof. Good scouting is still key, followed by a prompt response plan when an issue is detected.
“When it comes to crop protection, you want to be proactive instead of reactive, but when something emerges, the next best thing is your response,” says Erin Hodgson, ISU Extension specialist in entomology.
“You want to identify what’s going on, how widespread it is, and make a timely treatment that’s going to protect your yield,” she says.
Zaworski and Hodgson will both be at the show, helping producers identify plant health issues and answering questions.
Although experienced farmers usually have a basic understanding of how to identify different pests, the display will allow them to test their skills and learn more about new and emerging pests.
Hodgson says every farmer’s situation is different. Some may farm land in multiple parts of the county or state, and rely on crop consultants to diagnose plant health issues. Others do their own scouting or scout cooperatively with family members. No matter the situation or the size of the farm, it’s beneficial for everyone to know what to look for and how to accurately identify the issues affecting plant health.
This is the first year for the plant health display at the Farm Progress Show, and the specialists are excited to bring this critical component to the public’s eye.
Kick writes for ISU Extension.
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