Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Insects’ Category

Phys Org

Researchers identify protein target to halt citrus tree disease

June 7, 2017

University of Florida researchers may have come a step closer to finding a treatment for a disease called Huanglongbing, or citrus greening, that has been decimating citrus trees in the state. In work published this week in mSphere, an open access journal from the American Society for Microbiology, the investigators describe identifying a small protein from one bacterium living in Asian citrus psyllids—the flying insects that spread the disease as they feed on the trees—that can “cross-talk,” moving to another bacterium within the insects to silence so-called “prophage genes” containing viral material in the second bacterium, helping prevent an insect immune reaction that would likely be detrimental to both bacteria.

The , from the Wolbachia bacterium, could serve as a potential target to develop spray treatments to protect trees against the psyllids, and could potentially help the trees themselves fight off bacterial invasion, said senior study author Dean W. Gabriel, Ph.D., a professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Wolbachia is a natural bacterium present in up to 60 percent of all insect species. (image: citrus greening disease on mandarin oranges, wikimedia commons)

“In this case, one bacterium is doing a favor to the whole bacterial community living within the psyllid by shutting down a potential threat to survival of insect host,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel and colleagues had been looking for ways to interrupt , a disease process caused when psyllids carrying but not affected by a bacteria called Candidatus Liberibacter feed on healthy trees and inject this bacteria into the trees’ phloem, a tubular system normally used to transport sugars produced during photosynthesis from the leaves of a plant to the rest. The bacterium suppresses the plants’ defenses as it moves, Gabriel said: “It’s like a little cunning burglar sneaking in under the radar.” It impacts the tree from its roots to its shoots, he said, and has a long incubation period: “By the time disease is detected in one tree, the entire grove is thoroughly infested and much more difficult to treat.”

Citrus greening causes a severe decline in the —leaves turn a blotchy, mottled yellow color, the fruits produced are smaller and have an off-taste, and fruit yield is much reduced. The disease has devastated Florida over the last 10 or so years, Gabriel said. As a result, the state’s overall citrus production has declined by about 60 percent over the last six years. Scientists have been desperately seeking a cure.

In a series of laboratory experiments, Gabriel’s team discovered that expression of proteins that help drive the spread of the Candidatus bacteria were suppressed when they were treated with extracts from the psyllids. Further studying the process, they identified a fragment of the protein doing part of suppression as encoded by the Wolbachia strain and secreted into the insect. This protein could move within the insect into the Candidatus bacteria causing greening, bind itself to a genetic region that would normally promote prophage activity, and repress these genes.

Gabriel’s group has a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to grow the Candidatus Liberibacter bacterium in culture, a process that has been difficult because, once removed from its host, the bacterium historically has destroyed itself. Now that a protein target has been identified, it can be commercially synthesized and added to culture media, where the may be more likely to grow, Gabriel said.

Explore further: Blue-bellied insects may play a role in the fight against citrus greening

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-protein-halt-citrus-tree-disease.html#jCp

Read Full Post »

From Pestnet

USDA releases proposals to fight citrus greening & diamondback moths

In the past two weeks, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released documents on proposals to release two genetically modified (GM) organisms: diamondback moths and a virus designed to control the citrus greening disease attacking the citrus industry.

DB moth

Diamondback moths are a global pest of cruciferous crops such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage. On April 18, the USDA released a draft environmental assessment of a proposed experiment by a Cornell entomologist with GM diamondback moths.

The scientist, Anthony Shelton, plans to release tens of thousands of GM moths into a 10-acre vegetable field to test their potential as an “insecticide-free” control option for diamondback moths. The GM moths have been engineered to repress female survival, known as a “female autocidal trait.”

You can read the full assessment which concludes it will have no harmful effects here.

Citrus Greening
A Florida nursery, Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, is proposing the release of a GM virus, Citrus tristeza virus, which has been engineered to express bacteria-fighting proteins found in spinach. The GM virus, which has been undergoing controlled field tests since 2010, would be grafted — not sprayed — onto citrus trees in Florida. USDA has announced its intent to launch an environmental impact statement on Southern Garden’s proposal.

source: dtnpf.com

Publication date: 4/25/2017

Diamondback moths are a global pest of cruciferous crops such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage. On April 18, the USDA released a draft environmental assessment of a proposed experiment by a Cornell entomologist with GM diamondback moths.

The scientist, Anthony Shelton, plans to release tens of thousands of GM moths into a 10-acre vegetable field to test their potential as an “insecticide-free” control option for diamondback moths. The GM moths have been engineered to repress female survival, known as a “female autocidal trait.”

You can read the full assessment which concludes it will have no harmful effects here.

Citrus Greening
A Florida nursery, Southern Gardens Citrus Nursery, is proposing the release of a GM virus, Citrus tristeza virus, which has been engineered to express bacteria-fighting proteins found in spinach. The GM virus, which has been undergoing controlled field tests since 2010, would be grafted — not sprayed — onto citrus trees in Florida. USDA has announced its intent to launch an environmental impact statement on Southern Garden’s proposal.

source: dtnpf.com

Publication date: 4/25/2017

Read Full Post »

SE farm press

Boll Weevil USDA Agricultural Research Service

The weevil: an historical look at the ‘war’ that changed Southern cotton

The boll weevil and its hunger for cotton was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership between farmers, legislators and scientists.

Dominic Reisig | May 18, 2017

The boll weevil is not much to look at – just a grayish, little beetle with an impressively long snout. But this particular beetle, and its hunger for cotton, was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership between farmers, legislators and scientists. And that partnership showed how much can be accomplished when scientists and farmers work together.

What adult boll weevils lack in size they make up for with their larvae’s ability to feed on and destroy cotton. Boll weevils entered the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1800s, when they were first spotted in Texas. By the 1920s they had spread through all of the major cotton-producing areas in the country. The scope of the damage was breathtaking, as were the control efforts thrown at this insect: at one time, one-third of the insecticide used in the U.S. was used to combat boll weevils.

Editor’s Note: This was originally posted on the North Carolina State University website.

In 1903, the chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

testified before Congress that the insect’s outbreaks were a “wave of evil,” and that afflicted areas in Mexico had abandoned cotton production altogether. Indeed, many scholars agree that the impact was so great on the rural South’s cotton-dependent economy that it was one of the causes of the “Great Migration,” when African Americans moved en masse to the northern U.S. during the early 1900s.Despite the arrival of the boll weevil, cotton production at first actually increased in the U.S., because the price of cotton increased as the boll weevil ran some cotton growers out of business. Cotton production moved in advance of the weevil, creating a boom in cotton plantings in areas that were weevil-free. But as the cotton spread, so did the boll weevil – costing cotton growers billions in revenue.

Declaring War on the Weevil

Then, in 1958, something novel happened. The National Cotton Council of America unanimously agreed, for the first time ever, on a piece of farm legislation. Among other things, that legislation called for cotton research to be expanded – and the boll weevil to be eliminated.

This was an unusual step for many reasons. First, efforts had been made to eradicate insects in livestock before, but no one had ever tried it with a crop pest; this was breaking new ground. Second, this was going to cost a lot of money, which would require the support of the federal government. Third, nobody had yet come up with a way to eradicate the insect. Finally, once eradication began, the eradication process would become a common pool resource. Because of this, cooperation would be vital, given that there would be a temptation for individuals, or whole regions, to get a free ride, relying on the contributions of their neighbors to the eradication effort. So mandatory farmer participation was a must. One by one, each of the challenges were addressed, requiring close collaboration at every step.

Insect eradication was not an entirely new concept. The promoter of eradication was a USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) scientist named Edward Knipling, who had come up with an idea called the sterile insect technique. This technique was pioneered in the 1950s to eliminate screwworm, a parasitic insect pest of cattle. The sterile insect technique relies on flooding the environment with lots of sterile males. Those males then mate with females, but don’t produce any offspring. Knipling now envisioned eradication of the boll weevil, recognizing that it had two chinks in its armor. First, it was an exotic species, which meant that it could be present without some of the parasites and predators that weakened populations in its native Mexico. Second, it was reliant on a single host plant, cotton, which was also not native to the U.S.

Unfortunately, the sterile insect technique bombed. One million sterile boll weevil males were released in a trial. But the sterile males couldn’t compete with their virile wild counterparts and the trial was unsuccessful.

If eradication was going to take place, scientists would have to develop a new method. To that end, the federal government, state governments, and various cotton foundations and associations appropriated millions of dollars to support the research needed to develop the necessary tools for eradication.

For example, Congress funded USDA-ARS laboratories in many states, including one on the campus of Mississippi State University that was critical to creating many of the tools needed for eradication. This support continued through the eradication effort, ensuring that the insect could be eliminated beginning in Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, and moving steadily southward.

But the researchers of eradication faced a significant challenge up front. They knew that, for eradication to be successful, there had to be a very effective method of controlling boll weevils – one with a success rate of close to 100 percent. And that would require a significant leap over the available control techniques.

During the 1950s, controlling boll weevil infestations required multiple applications of very harsh and toxic insecticides (e.g., aldrin, azinphosmethyl, benzene hexachloride, chlordane, dieldrin, toxaphene, malathion, methyl parathion, and parathion). But a separate scientific advance was just around the corner.

New Weapons

In the 1960s, researchers were just beginning to understand the importance of insect pheromones, the chemicals produced by insect species that change behavior of other individuals in the species. USDA-ARS scientists discovered the sex attractant pheromones of the boll weevil – the combination of chemicals that allowed male boll weevils to find female boll weevils. These researchers were able to perfect a synthetic attractant pheromone blend, creating a lure that could be used to trap the amorous boll weevils. This advance would prove to be the linchpin for successful eradication, as weevils could be attracted, trapped, and monitored.

Another major breakthrough was the discovery of a method of control that increased success from 85-90 percent control to 98-99 percent.

Insect development is dependent on temperature, and lower temperatures slow down weevil development and reproduction. Mississippi scientists discovered that, by making multiple insecticide applications at short intervals during the autumn, they could both reduce the last reproductive generation of the weevils and significantly limit the survival of potentially overwintering adults. This was termed the reproduction-diapause control method.

The combination of the pheromone traps and the reproduction-diapause control method meant that, given cooperation on an area-wide basis, the boll weevil might be eradicated. And the pheromone traps cold also be used to confirm whether eradication efforts were successful. This one-two punch was tested in a pilot program in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana during the early 1970s. The pilot program couldn’t prove that this approach would eradicate boll weevils, but it was successful enough at reducing population levels that government, industry and research officials opted to proceed with a large-scale approach. This next step involved rolling out two companion trials in the late 1970s: one trial took place in Mississippi using the best known control methods for boll weevil at the time, while another trial tested the reproduction-diapause control method in North Carolina and Virginia.

Cooperation was critical to the North Carolina/Virginia trial. The federal government came through with enough funding to support 50 percent of the trial, while the state of North Carolina agreed to pick up another 25 percent of the cost. And more than three-quarters of North Carolina cotton growers approved of the eradication, agreeing to fund the remaining 25 percent. Meanwhile, a new insecticide had become available, diflubenzuron, which proved to make the eradication even more successful.

After three years, the reproduction-diapause method proved so successful that only one weevil was trapped in the North Carolina/Virginia eradication area. Moreover, this weevil was thought to be left over in a contaminated trap that hadn’t been cleaned properly. Insecticide use plummeted after eradication, but expansion and continuation of the program was not easy. Problems with funding, grower support in new eradication areas, and outbreaks of other pests, resulting from intensive insecticide applications used in eradication efforts – which obliterated beneficial insects that normally kept pests in check – slowed the process However, by 2009, the boll weevil was declared eradicated from all U.S. cotton-producing states, with one exception: Texas, which is the biggest cotton producer in the country.

A Fragile Victory

Which brings us to 2017. Eradication efforts have been stalled at the Texas-Mexico border, largely due to the instability created by illegal drug trafficking. That instability has effectively made large cotton farms in Mexico inaccessible for treatment, creating a welcoming habitat for boll weevil populations to rebound. Another problem in Mexico is the presence of non-cotton plant species that can host boll weevil. Further efforts to limit cooperation across the border, including the proposed border wall, ensure that the boll weevil’s “wave of evil” remains a looming threat. As a result, there is an ongoing battle to keep boll weevils in check in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, funded by an ongoing annual assessment from cotton-producing states, which is aimed at preventing – and tracking – the spread of boll weevil populations.

But this story also highlights the fact that that the boll weevil has been largely conquered in the U.S., thanks to cooperation among growers, scientists and government officials – and due, in large part, to federal research funding. For example, in the southeastern U.S., a boll weevil has not been captured in a pheromone trap in 14 years. And those federal investments, made across the South, continue to pay dividends in the form of new projects, which are poised to tackle today’s native and invasive insects due to the investments made from boll weevil eradication.

For example, those early investments by state and federal governments created the USDA-ARS research system that is still present today across the southern U.S., including the facility at Mississippi State. This system continues to make a difference for U.S. farms. Research units in areas that still have boll weevil populations are using cutting-edge technologies, such as population genetics and aerial infrared imaging, to track movement of the species and identify potential patches of host plants for destruction. As boll weevils have been slowly eradicated, state by state, these researchers and facilities have shifted research priorities to other issues and pests affecting crop production. No one wants to fight another hundred-year war with a plant pest.

Read Full Post »

Delta f perss

Western Corn Rootworm adults Purdue Extension Entomology – Purdue University
The western corn rootworm was first classified as a corn pest in the 1860s. Shown here are adults.

Fighting world hunger: Researchers use nuclear methods to study pest resistance in corn plants

Expertise, resources found at the University of Missouri allow researchers to study pest-resistance in corn that could help sustain projected 9 billion global population.

Jeff Sossaman | Mar 10, 2017

Developing corn varieties that are resistant to pests is vital to sustain the estimated 9 billion global population by 2050.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, using advanced nuclear methods, have determined the mechanisms corn plants use to combat the western corn rootworm, a major pest threatening the growth of the vital food source.

Scientists believe that using the knowledge gained from these cutting-edge studies could help crop breeders in developing new resistant lines of corn and make significant strides toward solving global food shortages.

“The western corn rootworm is a voracious pest,” said Richard Ferrieri, a research professor in the MU Interdisciplinary Plant Group, and an investigator at the MU Research Reactor (MURR).

“Rootworm larvae hatch in the soil during late spring and immediately begin feeding on the crop’s root system. Mild damage to the root system can hinder water and nutrient uptake, threatening plant fitness, while more severe damage can result in the plant falling over.”

Breeding corn that can fight these pests is a promising alternative. Ferrieri, and his international team of researchers, including scientists from the University of Bern in Switzerland, Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, used radioisotopes to trace essential nutrients and hormones as they moved through live corn plants. In a series of tests, the team injected radioisotope tracers in healthy and rootworm-infested corn plants.

AUXIN

“For some time, we’ve known that auxin, a powerful plant hormone, is involved in stimulating new root growth,” Ferrieri said. “Our target was to follow auxin’s biosynthesis and movement in both healthy and stressed plants and determine how it contributes to this process.”

By tagging auxin with a radioactive tracer, the researchers were able to use a medical diagnostic imaging tool callED positron emission tomography, or PET imaging, to “watch” the movement of auxin in living plant roots in real time.

Similarly, they attached a radioactive tracer to an amino acid called glutamine that is important in controlling auxin chemistry, and observed the pathways the corn plants used to transport glutamine and how it influenced auxin biosynthesis.

The researchers found that auxin is tightly regulated at the root tissue level where rootworms are feeding. The study also revealed that auxin biosynthesis is vital to root regrowth and involves highly specific biochemical pathways that are influenced by the rootworm and triggered by glutamine metabolism.

“This work has revealed several new insights about root regrowth in crops that can fend off a rootworm attack,” Ferrieri said. “Our observations suggest that improving glutamine utilization could be a good place to start for crop breeding programs or for engineering rootworm-resistant corn for a growing global population.”

MURR

Ferrieri’s work highlights the capabilities of the MURR, a crucial component to research at the university for more than 40 years. Operating 6.5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, scientists from across the campus use the 10-megawatt facility to not only provide crucial radioisotopes for clinical settings globally, but also to carbon date artifacts, improve medical diagnostic tools and prevent illness.

MURR also is home to a PETrace cyclotron that is used to produced other radioisotopes for medical diagnostic imaging.

The study, “Dynamic Precision Phenotyping Reveals Mechanism of Crop Tolerance to Root Herbivory,” was published in Plant Physiology.

Read Full Post »

MercoPress

Crop destroying caterpillar rapidly spreading across Africa; maize production endangered

Monday, February 6th 2017 – 23:00 UTC
Fall armyworm is native to the Americas and can devastate maize production, the staple food crop that is essential for food security in large areas of Africa.
Fall armyworm is native to the Americas and can devastate maize production, the staple food crop that is essential for food security in large areas of Africa.

New research announced by scientists at CABI (Center for Agriculture and Bioscience Information) confirms that a recently introduced crop-destroying armyworm caterpillar is now spreading rapidly across Mainland Africa and could spread to tropical Asia and the Mediterranean in the next few years, becoming a major threat to agricultural trade worldwide.

Fall armyworm is native to North and South America and can devastate maize production, the staple food crop that is essential for food security in large areas of Africa. It destroys young plants, attacking their growing points and burrowing into the cobs.

An indigenous pest in the Americas, it has not previously been established outside the region. In the past year, it was found in parts of West Africa for the first time and now a UK based CABI-led investigation has confirmed it to be present in Ghana. It can be expected to spread to the limits of suitable African habitat within a few years.

Plant doctors working in CABI’s Plantwise plant clinics, which work to help farmers lose less of what they grow, have found evidence of two species of fall armyworm in Ghana for the first time. This has been confirmed by DNA analysis undertaken at CABI’s molecular laboratory in Egham, Surrey (UK). In Africa, researchers are working to understand how it got there, how it spreads, and how farmers can control it in an environmentally friendly way.

CABI Chief Scientist, Dr. Matthew Cock said, “We are now able to confirm that the fall armyworm is spreading very rapidly outside the Americas, and it can be expected to spread to the limits of suitable African habitat within just a few years. It likely travelled to Africa as adults or egg masses on direct commercial flights and has since been spread within Africa by its own strong flight ability and carried as a contaminant on crop produce.”

Known as the fall armyworm because it migrates into temperate North America in Autumn (fall), this pest has long been a problem throughout tropical America, damaging vital crops. It mostly affects maize (corn) but it has been recorded eating more than 100 different plant species, causing major damage to economically important cultivated grass crops such as maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane as well as other crops including cabbage, beet, peanut, soybean, alfalfa, onion, cotton, pasture grasses, millet, tomato, potato and cotton.

Following the first signs of a potential problem in Ghana in 2016, noted by plant clinic doctors, the CABI-led Plantwise initiative worked with the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana, to investigate the identity of the organism responsible and to determine if it was the first instance of fall armyworm being present in Ghana.

Damage to maize crops was investigated at three different survey areas within Ghana and the caterpillars associated with the damage were photographed, collected, and sent to the CABI laboratory in Egham, UK for analysis.

Dr. Cock explained, “Biological control for fall armyworm will need to be studied as the potential for Africa is not well understood yet. It may take several years to identify and test a suitable biological control for this pest in Africa so urgent work is needed right now. In the meantime, we will need to support national programmes to encourage the best types of pest control, and not resort to indiscriminate use of insecticides which are harmful to the environment and have limited success.”

Read Full Post »

Contributed by Kritika Babbar, CABI India

ICBL.jpgClimate change has emerged as one of the most important environmental, social and economic issues today – especially for South Asia, which is highly impacted by these changes. In light of this, an international conference on Biodiversity, Climate Change Assessment and Impacts on Livelihood (ICBCL) was convened in Kathmandu from 10-12 January 2017. The conference was opened by Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the President of Nepal, and saw participation from eminent scientists, policy makers and development workers across the agriculture sector in South Asia.

Plantwise was invited to showcase its work on climate change and Tuta absoluta in three developing regions – Asia, Africa and South America.  CABI and Nepal’s Plant Protection Directorate (responsible for Plantwise implementation in Nepal) highlighted their role in reporting, monitoring and disseminating information about the pest to farmers in Nepal. Since Tuta absoluta was first reported in Nepal in 2016, plant clinics have been aiding in both monitoring and management of the invasive pest. CABI staff also took the opportunity to raise awareness about the upcoming launch of CABI’s Invasive Species programme and highlighted the synergy between it and Plantwise as a holistic approach to address pests like Tuta absouta. The presentation was well received and Plantwise’s global approach to coordinate efforts against the spread of plant pests and diseases was widely recognised as particularly efficient.

For more information about Tuta absoluta, visit the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.
For more information about Plantwise in Nepal, visit the Plantwise website.

Read Full Post »

Delta Farm Press Daily

peanut-dryland-field-june-2015-burrower-bug

Unravelling the mysteries of the peanut burrower bug

Peanut farmers who don’t know the peanut burrower bug are fortunate. Growers who’ve battled the yield- and quality-reducing pest know something needs to be done to control it, and those growers can help find answers.

Brad Haire 1 | Jan 06, 2017

Peanut farmers who personally don’t know the peanut burrower bug are fortunate. Growers who’ve battled the yield- and quality-reducing pest know something needs to be done to control it, and those growers can help find answers.

A Georgia-based research project will hit the high-gears in 2017 to develop an index growers can use to gauge their risk for the pest and implement better ways to defend against it.

When Mark Abney arrived in Georgia in 2013 as the new peanut entomologist, there was plenty of interest (and pressure) to find ways to stop the ground-dwelling, peanut-pod-feeding bug, which for several years prior suddenly started causing major problems in parts of the state’s peanut-growing region, especially troublesome to dryland peanuts.

“There wasn’t a whole lot known about it then. There was some work done in South Carolina in the ‘90s and a little bit of work in Texas in the ‘70s,” Abney said. “We’ve learned some things in the past few years, but the reality is there still isn’t a whole lot known about it from a standpoint of its biology or why it became a pest for peanut.”

The peanut burrower bug is not an invasive species, which it is mistakenly believed to be. It is a native species to Georgia and confirmed to be as far north as Connecticut. So, it must have a wide range of host plants it can survive on — not just peanuts, he said.

“We think of it as the peanut burrower bug, and that is its common name but it eats other things or it couldn’t survive the northeast,” he said.

In 2013, Abney received money from the National Peanut Board and the Georgia Peanut Commission to do research projects with University of Georgia Extension county agents, putting light traps in 15 counties to find out when the bug was most active and distributed across the state. Another project looked at how tillage influences the pest and on-farm insecticide trials.

After a couple of years of collecting that preliminary data, Abney and a team used that data to get a USDA Crop Protection and Pest Management grant.

The CPPM project has several objectives, but the main two are:

  1. To find out how peanut burrower bugs communicate with their own special pheromone. Similar to how boll weevil traps work by using an artificially-made boll weevil pheromone to attract and trap what once was a devastating cotton pest, the burrower bug project will develop pheromone-based traps, which are much cheaper and more practical than light-based traps. To pinpoint the peanut burrower bug pheromone, Abney is collaborating with a Maryland-based USDA scientist who discovered the brown marmorated stink bug pheromone, which can now be synthesized to monitor for that invasive stink bug.
  2. To develop a risk index, or risk assessment tool, in which a grower can enter production information — such as crop history, soil type, insecticides, peanut variety, tillage system and location – and from that know how at risk a particular field might be for the burrower bug and if a level of treatment is economically needed and what precise treatment is recommended to lower that risk.

“We want to develop a way they can manage their risk before they even put a peanut in the ground,” he said.

There are not many management tactics for the peanut burrower bug available to growers. But the use of granular chlorpyrifos (Lorsban), irrigation and bottom plowing can reduce risk of burrower bug damage. But there is no one Silver Bullet.

One of the sneakiest problems with the peanut burrower bug is it feeds underground and unseen on the peanut pod, which lowers yield potential and in doing so also opens the door for aflatoxin to enter the pod. Every load of peanuts grown in the U.S. is graded. Even if a slight percentage of burrower bug damage (2.5 percent or greater of internal damage) is detected in a farmer’s load of peanuts, the grade of that peanut load drops to Seg. 2 and that farmer’s potential revenue for the load gets slashed.

A big mystery about the peanut burrower bug is why its presence and damage is so sporadic. It can be a big problem in one field and then a mile down the road at another field never be a problem. Very smart people, Abney said, from those at buying points to county agents, have tried to figure out this anomaly, but the investigations have mostly been confined to just one county or small region.

One of the biggest aspects of this new burrower bug project will be to find out on a state level exactly where, when and hopefully how the pest is a problem. Peanut growers who’ve dealt with the pest can help, Abney said.

“We’re working with Federal State Inspection Service to get information on all the burrower bug damage in the state. With that information we can go back, with the cooperation of buying point operators, county agents and especially the growers, potentially all of the growers who had burrower bug problem even if it was just 1-percent damage, and talk to that grower,” he said.

With that sort of statewide data set, you can better tweeze out commonalities, “and hopefully figure out why we see burrower bugs in this field and not in that field,” he said. “The scientist in me has to believe this is not random and that there has to be a pattern there and it is up to us to figure it out.”

Abney said he is working to get final permission to receive the names of peanut growers whose peanuts show burrower bug damage. He said the names of those growers will be protected and confidential to the project, and he hopes the growers will help.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »