Western corn rootworm (WCR) has plagued American maize growers for more than a century and become a serious pest in Europe too, spreading across a broad swathe of Central Europe since first being discovered in Serbia in 1992. A new guide from ENDURE examines ways of tackling the pest using an Integrated Pest Management approach.
Western Corn Rootworm in Europe: Integrated Pest Management Is The Only Sustainable Solution is the second guide in the From Science to Field series from ENDURE’s Maize Case Study team and has been written by researchers from the Plant Protection Institute at Szent István University.
Researchers at the university recently coordinated a participatory Integrated Pest Management (IPM) development programme designed to provide farmers with alternative ways of dealing with the pest in Central and Eastern Europe and thus have wide experience in tackling WCR (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera ).
The leaflet examines the morphology and lifecycle of WCR, which is a member of the leaf beetle family producing one generation per year and overwintering in the egg stage in the soil of maize fields.
The leaflet explains how both larvae and adults can cause economic damage to maize crops. Larval feeding can cause significant damage to maize root systems, leading to plant lodging, while adults cause damage when feeding in the silks before and during pollination.
Researchers conclude that the best and safest way to manage WCR larvae is through crop rotation, regardless of geographic and climatic differences of the degree of pest pressure. They caution that where socio-economic factors make crop rotation impossible, insecticides should be applied only after an accurate risk estimation has been conducted.
The leaflet also investigates other non-chemical options; including cultural practices designed to enhance maize plant development, hybrid selection, the use of natural enemies and biological controls, and transgenic maize hybrids.
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