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Grain growers warned to stay current with technology
By SHANNON TIGNOR ELLIS
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Continuing a long history of support and working relationship, several Virginia Tech researchers were on hand to offer updates on their research projects to grain farmers at this year’s Virginia Grains and Soybean Conference.
Weed scientist Dr. Scott Hagood encouraged farmers to be better stewards of technology.
He referenced the mismanagement of cropping systems such as glyphosate tolerance, which have created serious issues in crop production that could have been prevented.
Hagood reported that ALS-resistant chickweed remains a major threat to Virginia agronomic production.
Soybean specialist Dr. David Holshouser reminded producers that “the future of Virginia’s animal agriculture industry will drive what we do.”
Holshouser continued by adding, “We’ve got to increase our grain production. We don’t want to lose our animal industry.” With the need to increase double crop yields, Holshouser suggested the possibility of looking at grain sorghum production.
“Pests are now global,” said Extension entomologist Dr. Ames Herbert.
Brown marmorated stink bugs, originally from China, are now well established in soybean fields in northwestern parts of Virginia.
With the assistance of a United Soybean Board grant, Virginia is collaborating with researchers in Delaware and Maryland and is close to outlining solid management practices for stink bugs, Herbert said.
Another invasive pest from China that Virginia farmers are dealing with is the kudzu bug, or bean plataspid, which is in southern Virginia now and rapidly moving north.
“It is going to be a challenge to protect our beans from this pest,” Herbert said.
With rumblings of Bt soybeans becoming more popular, Herbert expressed concern about creating an entire landscape of Bt crops.
“There will be blow back from this, but we just don’t know what it will be,” he said.
Pathologist Dr. Pat Phipps identified a soybean virus confirmed in Virginia for the first time this year.
Soybean Vein Necrosis Virus is transmitted by thrips and was widespread in the eastern part of the state.
More research is needed to determine the infection time and impact of this virus, Phipps said.
Geneticist Dr. Carl Griffey discussed the increase in wheat yields and the importance of continuing research to continue to improve and protect that yield.
“We need to complete mapping of the wheat genome to fully understand the genes that control yield,” Griffey said.