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Digital tool helps manage insect risk

Map of corn rootworm migration across the United States. Photo Courtesy of insectforecast.com

An online resource is providing farmers insight into insect pressure in their area.

AUDIO: Mike Sandstrom, Insect Forecast

Mike Sandstrom created insectforecast.com back in 2006, when universities, extensions and private processing companies expressed interest in an insect risk management tool. The online resource provides growers in major crop production regions with pertinent insect migration data.

“We do a forecast for five different insects, which include: black cutworm, soybean aphids, corn rootworm, corn earworm and western bean cutworm,” Sandstrom said. “We use different meteorological that help us in making our forecasts. We can get very specific to a certain area, so we can tell if growers in the northern part of Iowa are going to have a different problem than the southern part of the state, and different times of the year as well. It’s really good because growers can get out in their fields and scout based on the forecast.”

Insectforecast.com is updated daily, during peak season. Sandstrom says current map readings suggest Iowa growers are at risk for a couple different infestations.

“Most notably, growers in the northern part of the state – soybean aphids are starting to become a potential risk because soybeans are moving into reproductive stages. There’s also isolated problems, as always this time of year, with corn rootworm. The western part of the state could see some western bean cutworm pressure,” Sandstrom said.

Sandstrom adds insectforecast.com can help growers determine which insects need to be scouted for. He encourages to growers to start scouting fields, in an effort to save on input costs.

“Especially with commodity prices right now, anything the grower can do to save on input costs is huge. This tool allows the grower to understand if there is potential insect risk in their fields. If there’s not, there’s no need for them to go out and spray the chemicals (and) they can save their money. If there is a risk, then they should actively scout there fields. If it’s (infestation) above the economic threshold, then they should consider treatment,” Sandstrom said. 

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