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Soybean pest native to China detected in U.S. for first time

A new soybean pest has appeared in fields scattered across Wisconsin during the past month, according to University of Wiscosnin-Madison scientists. The soybean aphid also has turned up in northern Illinois and may soon be reported from Michigan.

"This is an unprecedented situation," says David Hogg, who chairs the Department of Entomology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. "The soybean aphid is a native of China and hasn't been reported from the United States until now."

"We just haven't seen aphid problems on soybeans before," says John Wedberg, a UW-Madison extension entomologist who has studied the insect problems of Wisconsin's corn and soybean crops since 1978.

The researchers say it is too early for them to predict how the new pest will affect yields this year. "Although we've seen some fields that are severely affected, it does not seem to be causing widespread losses this year," Hogg says. "We're trying to learn as much as we can from the problem now because we are concerned the situation may become more serious in coming years."

"Most soybean fields appear to be tolerating the soybean aphid populations," Wedberg adds. "As you drive by many of these fields with aphids you wouldn't notice major plant symptoms. But in extreme infestations -- often where the soybeans were planted late in the season -- the plants develop crinkled or cupped leaves and they may yellow."

The soybean crop has become an increasingly important part of Wisconsin's diverse agricultural economy. Growers in the state harvested one million acres of soybeans for the first time in 1997. Experts predict this year's harvest will exceed 1.4 million acres.

In mid-July, Wedberg and plant pathologist Craig Grau began seeing soybean plants covered with aphids in some of their research plots. Soon farmers and pest scouts began reporting similar problems.

At first Wisconsin seemed to be the only state with aphid-infested soybean fields. But then resear
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Contact: George Gallepp
ggallepp@facstaff.wisc.edu
608-262-3636
University of Wisconsin-Madison
14-Aug-2000


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