Sawfly outbreaks cause for concern | TSLN.com

Sawfly outbreaks cause for concern

Wheat stem sawflies heavily damage more wheat than any other insect in Montana, and now Colorado and Nebraska are experiencing unprecedented outbreaks, says Montana State University entomologist David Weaver.

Continuing to search for solutions, experts from three countries and four states will share their findings at the Sixth International Wheat Stem Sawfly Conference to be held April 3 and 4 at the Procrastinator Theatre in MSU's Strand Union building. The conference is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so people who want to attend are asked to notify the organizers at wheatstemsawfly@gmail.com

MSU economist Anton Bekkerman, who will give two presentations at the conference, conducted the first formal economic study on the impacts of wheat stem sawfly in Montana. During his talk from 10 to 10:30 a.m. April 3, he will give a 15-year perspective on the damage it caused.

"The high wheat prices observed in 2012 resulted in estimated direct damages of approximately $80.1 million to Montana farmers," Bekkerman said. "What is perhaps equally as important is that these damages implied that nearly 9.7 million bushels of Montana wheat did not reach consumers. This has important indirect economic implications all along the wheat marketing chain."

The estimated expected losses to individual farmers with 2,000-acre operations were between $15,000 and $20,000 for spring wheat producers and $25,000 and $47,000 for winter wheat producers in 2012, Bekkerman said. Winter wheat producers in high impact areas were expected to lose $110,000 and $120,000 per farm.

Other conference speakers will give updates on the southward expansion of wheat stem sawflies and share their findings about biological control, integrated pest management, host plant resistance, the genetics of both wheat stem sawfly and wheat, population monitoring, and chemical ecology.

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A keynote speaker will be Marie-Claude Bon from the European Biological Control Laboratory in France. She will speak from 1:30 to 2 p.m. April 3 on genetic variation among wheat stem sawfly populations.

For a complete schedule of the conference and more details, go to http://www.entomology.montana.edu/sawfly/iwsscprogram2014.pdf and scroll down. F

–MSU