Researchers in the key corn-growing state of Illinois are finding significant damage from rootworms in farm fields planted in a rotation with a genetically modified corn that is supposed to protect the crop from the pests, according to a new report.
Evidence gathered from fields in two Illinois counties suggests that pest problems are mounting as the rootworms grow ever more resistant to efforts to fight them, including crop rotation combined with use of the biotech corn, according to the report issued by Michael Gray, a professor of crop sciences at the University of Illinois.
Farmers across “a wide swath of Illinois” could face formidable challenges in protecting their corn crops from the hungry insects, Gray said in the Aug. 27 report.
The crop damage was found in fields where the specialized biotech corn had been planted in a rotation following soybeans, a practice which typically helps beat back the rootworm problems as western corn rootworm adults typically lay eggs in cornfields and not in soybean fields.
But a large number of adult western corn rootworms were collected in both the damaged corn fields and from adjacent soybean fields, Gray said.