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Pests & Diseases

Diseases and pests diminish crop yields; find out what the current threats are and learn how to battle these yield robbers.

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It’s really quite shocking, the first time you notice a large swath of your pasture has been cultivated without your knowledge or consent. You may even scratch your head and wonder what happened to your grass.

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So, your cows are off their feed – maybe even off their feet. Perhaps you’ve noticed a disruption in your herd’s breeding interval, maybe a few more open than normal compared to previous years. Having ruled out diseases and pathogens, it’s time to consider: Is it something they ate?

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Both legumes and grasses are susceptible to diseases, pests and pathogens that can destroy the plant or greatly reduce their productivity or the quality of the forage.

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Forage growers, like the rest of the farming world, must deal with pests of various descriptions – weeds, bugs, molds, fungi and the occasional virus as well. It reminds me of the “thorns and thistles shall it bring forth …” and “in the sweat of thy face you shall eat …” kind of problem mentioned in Genesis.

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Alfalfa is a major forage crop in the U.S., and the organic component has been growing to supply organic milk producers. A number of insect pests attack this crop, but the alfalfa weevil is probably the most familiar to growers.

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Over the past four years, Iowa State University has conducted 14 site-years of foliar fungicide research trials with alfalfa at the ISU Northeast Research and Demonstration Farm near Nashua, Iowa.

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