In the National News
BACTERIA PROTECT WHEAT
Beneficial bacteria present on flowers could be effective in fighting infection by the fungus Fusarium graminearum, which causes fusarium head blight (scab) in cereal crops. The naturally occurring bacteria may compete with the fungus for nutrients secreted by the anthers on a wheat plant. The bacteria cause no harm to wheat kernels and aren’t considered dangerous to consumers. In tests, spraying formulations of the bacteria on plots of two commercial wheat varieties reduced disease severity by as much as 63 percent.
FARM BILL PASSES
Congress passed the $290 billion farm bill by over two-thirds majority, enough to keep the bill from presidential veto. Two-thirds of the money will help subsidize domestic food programs such as increasing food stamps to help offset burdens placed on needy families from the recent increase in food prices. Forty million will go toward farm subsidies, and almost $30 billion will be allocated to farmers to take their land out of production, and other environmental programs.
NEW WHEAT VIRUS NAMED
Researchers at Kansas State University have identified a new virus affecting wheat, and named it triticum mosaic virus in 2007. It affects wheat in approximately the same manner as wheat streak mosaic virus and high plains virus. All three viruses are vectored by the wheat curl mite and the symptoms are nearly identical. Many aspects of triticum mosaic virus are unknown, including varietal resistance and yield loss potential. Because this new virus is similar to the previously existing two viruses, it is managed the same way.
NEW TOOL FOR DROUGHT
Scientists at the Agriculture Research Station in the Northern Great Plains developed a crop sequence calculator which helps farmers decide which crops to plant to maximize crop yield given available water resources. Crops include barley, buckwheat, canola, chickpea, flax grain, sorghum, lentil, proso millet, corn, crambe, dry bean, dry pea, safflower, soybean, spring wheat, and sunflower. The crop calculator CD can be ordered free online at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/main/docs.htm?docid=13698
TREE TANNINS AFFECT S.O.D.
More than 100 plant species are susceptible to the pathogen causing sudden oak death (SOD). Extracts from the heartwood of western red cedar, Alaskan yellow cedar, western juniper, and Port-Orford-cedar have been found to limit the growth of the pathogen that causes this disease, Phytophthora ramorum. They were shown to kill spores and inhibit fungal growth.
PEST ERADICATION A SUCCESS
The Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) has been officially eradicated from the city of Chicago. ALB was first discovered in Brooklyn, NY, in 1996, and in Chicago in 1998. The beetle kills a number of host trees including maple, elm, willow, birch, poplar, horse chestnut, and more. During Chicago’s eradication program, more than 1,771 trees were removed to help stop this devastating pest. While there are similar looking beetles in North America, if you ever spot this beetle (click here for images and more information) please send it to the UPPDL for prompt identification—it could save a lot of trees!
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