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Mycotoxins and the western bean cutworm: a new deadly duo
Mycotoxins and the western bean cutworm (WBC) are a destructive team for corn farmers. When the WBC larvae feed on corn ears it creates a gateway for secondary pests, such as moulds.
Professor Art Schaafsma and doctoral student Jocelyn Smith, from the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus, are investigating the relationship between corn injury from WBC and mycotoxin levels. “We need to know how, why and when these interact in order to have a chance to help farmers,” says Schaafsma.
Using corn field trials, the team is infesting plants with the WBC larvae to determine when and how they cause plant injury. Next, they will see if the WBC damage is a way to predict mycotoxin levels. A better understanding of the relationship between WBC damage and mycotoxin levels will be key for finding the most effective management strategy for farmers, they say. Collaborators on this project include Professor David Hooker, Victor Limay-Rios and entomologist Tracey Baute.
Investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP). In Ontario, this program is delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council. This research is also funded by Grain Farmers of Ontario as well as several crop protection and seed companies. •
Deciding what type of herbicide to apply can be a tricky process – different situations call for specific weed management approaches. But researchers at the University of Guelph are comparing common herbicides to determine their strengths and weaknesses against popular and emerging weed species.
“There are no bad products,” says Mike Cowbrough of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs (OMAF and MRA), “some are just not in the position to effectively win against certain species.”
Cowbrough has teamed up with Gilles Quesnel (also of OMAF and MRA) and Professors Peter Sikemma, Clarence Swanton and Francois Tardif to determine the most consistent products to tackle specific weeds and the level of control they have on them.
For example, they have found Primextra II Magnum, a corn herbicide, is effective against grassy pigweed and lamb’s quarter, but it will not control velvet leaf.
Cowbrough says when selecting herbicides, it is also important to look at the range of control that was observed. For a specific weed to be listed as controlled by a herbicide on its label, the herbicide must control 80 percent of that weed’s population.
Which herbicides provide more than this amount of effectiveness? Which are closer to 90-100 percent effectiveness? That’s what Cowbrough and his team hope to find out.
“If you’re going to invest in an herbicide, you should be able to know where your money is really best spent,” he says.
This research is funded by Grain Farmers of Ontario. •
Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a SPARK writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667.