Learn to identify plant and insect problems found in Iowa crops

AMES, Iowa — Identifying the type of insect or plant disease affecting your crops is a critical part of forming a response. Making the wrong decision can be costly and may have little or no effect on the problem at hand.

To help growers improve their identification skills, plant disease and insect diagnostic specialists from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will present exhibits on common insect and plant disease problems during the Farm This year’s Progress Show, from August 30 to September 30. 1 in Boone.

Samples, which will be based on the current growing season, are still being determined.

Microscopes will be available and visitors will be able to observe closely, while interacting with specialists who study the same insects and diseases on a daily basis.

“Each year is variable as to what we will actually see,” said plant pathologist Ed Zaworski at the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic at Iowa State. “Some diseases like some conditions, so we always talk to people about the disease triangle in plant pathology. It takes three parts of a triangle to have a disease: the susceptible host, a pathogen, and an optimal environment.

While farmers have many choices that can help prevent insect and disease problems, no system is ever foolproof. Good screening is always essential, followed by a rapid response plan when a problem is detected.

“When it comes to crop protection, you want to be proactive rather than reactive, but when something emerges, the best thing to do is your response,” said Erin Hodgson, extension specialist in entomology at Iowa State. “You want to identify what’s going on, its extent, and do timely treatment that will protect your performance.”

Both Zaworski and Hodgson will be on hand at the show to help growers identify plant health issues and answer questions.

Although experienced farmers usually have a basic understanding of how to identify different pests, the exhibit will allow them to test their skills and learn about new and emerging pests.

Hodgson said 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 in cooperation with family members. No matter the situation or the size of the farm, everyone benefits from knowing what to look for and how to accurately identify issues that affect plant health.

This is the first year of the Plant Health exhibit at the Farm Progress Show, and the specialists are excited to bring this essential element to the public eye.

“We hope to spread the word and the expertise of what we have here at Iowa State,” Hodgson said.

In addition to face-to-face time with specialists, visitors to the show can also learn about popular publications related to plant health and Crop Protection Network – a website devoted to recent publications, tools and educational resources on current crop health issues.

Shareable photo: Identification of corn rootworm.