Illinois crop pathologists and entomologists publish 2019 field research results
Roots damaged by western corn rootworm
Roots damaged by western corn rootworm. Photo by Joseph Spencer.
January 22, 2020

URBANA, Ill. – Researchers from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and the Illinois Natural History Survey have published their 2019 field research results related to crop pests and diseases in Illinois.

The report, “2019 applied research results: Field crop disease and insect management,” is available online and includes evaluations of plant varieties, management practices, and products for insects, nematodes, and diseases in corn and soybean, as well as results of statewide pest surveys.

Report author Nathan Kleczewski, a plant pathologist and University of Illinois Extension specialist in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I, says the report serves multiple purposes.

“This annual publication is a nice one-stop-shop for applied research results for the season. It’s not just diseases; it’s weather, production, and insects. In the future, we hope it can continue to expand to include other areas and crops. Having these data published annually and stored for posterity is extremely important. You might forget that a year was particularly wet or dry, and that is why certain diseases were problematic or non-issues.”

Kleczewski notes the report also includes information on management practices that didn’t work. “In applied research, the lack of an effect of a management practice is just as important as if a practice has an effect. Why?  Because management costs money and we want our producers to be as profitable as possible. If something doesn’t work, we want that information out there just as much as if something works,” he says. 

According to the report, the wet 2019 spring favored fusarium head blight in some areas, and late planting resulted in pockets of corn impacted by southern rust. Tar spot, a major player in the 2018 season, was not impactful due to dry conditions in the middle of summer; increased prevent-plant acres in the northern part of the state; and other environmental factors. Although diseases in soybeans were not a major issue, soybean cyst nematode was still present in the majority of fields to some degree.   

“In this year’s soybean nematode survey, we saw that soybean cyst nematode is really starting to adapt to the commonly used PI88788 source of resistance. This means that this nematode is not being controlled as efficiently as it was in the past. This first year of data really shows that producers need to be monitoring their fields for this nematode to ensure that their yields are not being impacted. Often you don’t see the damage caused, and fields suffer ’hidden’ yield losses. Routine sampling and implementation of integrated management practices can help keep this pathogen in check. We will be doing more surveys this spring, as the wet and cold end to the season prevented us from sampling in a significant portion of the state,” Kleczewski says.

The report also contains evaluations of Bt trait packages and soil insecticides in corn, as well as foliar insecticides in soybean. Nick Seiter, an entomologist in the Department of Crop Sciences, headed up the evaluations for western corn rootworm, bean leaf beetle, and others. He says, “With these field experiments, we continue to monitor trait and insecticide performance for rootworm control every year to document resistance development and provide efficacy comparisons to our clientele. Our hope is that producers will be able to use this guide to inform their decisions on insect control.”

The team releases a research report each year.