2018-2022 Highlights from the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center: Webinar Recording Published

Lynnae Jess, co-director of the North Central Integrated Pest Management  Center, shared highlights about the Center during the November “Pests and Progress” webinar. Jess’s presentation focused on Center activities from 2018 to 2022 and included activities from working groups, funded research projects, an IPM survey, and communication activities.

The Center’s role is to encourage the use of integrated pest management (IPM) practices to support healthy ecosystems and communities in the region. The Center accomplishes this by facilitating collaboration;  sharing IPM news and resources; and funding IPM working groups and research.

From 2018 to 2022, 23 working groups were funded. The focus of these groups ranged from human and agricultural health to urban agriculture, ticks and tick diseases to pollinator health. A few of the impacts included

  • A 50% to 90% reduction in pesticide use from the Midwest Grows Green turf care recommendations
  • Cost savings of $1.8 million in half a year when mowing was reduced on an interstate rights-of-way
  • Ways to control Ascochyta blight in chickpeas and downy mildew in hops were identified and shared
  • Many more IPM resources are available, from the “I See Dead Plants” podcast, the “War Against Weeds” podcast, the “Vegetable Beet” podcast, the “Hop” podcast, and the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide.

Center communication activities include webinars, podcasts, pest alerts, a newsletter and social media posts. 

The North Central IPM Center is on a 4-year funding cycle and receives its funding from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

To learn more about the IPM survey results, Center impacts or recent critical issue research projects, be sure to watch the full video.


Lynnae Jess has been a part of the North Central IPM Center since its inception in 2000 when it was called the North Central Pest Management Center. She has been the Co-Director since 2018.

webinar recording News

Soybean Gall Midge, Spatial and Temporal Dynamics: Webinar Recording Published

Dr. Justin McMechan, assistant professor and crop protection and cropping systems specialist at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, shared recent research on soybean gall midge during the October “Pests and Progress” webinar.

Soybean gall midge is a relatively new problem for soybean growers. While it was first identified in 2011, it did not cause widespread issues until 2018. Crop rotation can help reduce populations, but it is important to also watch for areas where corn and soybean rotations are near each other because the adults can move between fields. 

Typically, soybean gall midge is an edge-of-field pest so this is the best area to scout for adult activity. Larvae were found after six to nine days after an adult was found at a site, with peak larval numbers in Late July. Cracks in soybean stems are necessary for infestation, and these cracks typically develop around V2 in soybeans. 

Soybean gall midge numbers did not seem to be affected by plant canopy. The majority of cocoons were found in the top six centimeters of soil and within 16 cm of soybean plants. Pheromone development is underway to support future trapping efforts. 

Stay informed about the latest soybean gall midge information on the Soybean Gall Midge Alert Network website


Justin McMechan is an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has been with UNL since 2016. His research focuses primarily on soybean gall midge, a new species causing injury to soybean in the Midwest. Other research areas include cover crops management tactics and arthropod interactions as well as hail damage in row crops.


New Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Program and Funding Opportunities for Integrated Pest Management

USDA NIFA is actively working to increase support for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA). In October, NIFA announced funding of a program titled, “Increasing DEIA Programming for Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A Model for USDA NIFA-funded Organizations,” that will be spearheaded by the North Central IPM Center in coordination with the Regional IPM Centers.

This program aims to alter the culture within Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for a more inclusive and equitable environment. The existing culture within IPM is shaped by long-standing values, norms, and traditions, often rooted in the experiences of those who have dominated the field historically. This can lead to negative experiences for individuals who were historically excluded due to factors like gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, and their intersections. To address this, the Regional IPM Centers (RIPMC) will work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive culture that reflects the diversity of the U.S. population and the communities served. This aligns with one of the USDA’s priorities in 2022, focusing on advancing racial justice, equity, and opportunity, and eliminating disparities.

This program will work to advance DEIA within IPM through a comprehensive approach. Initially, it seeks to gain a better understanding of past and present IPM activities to pinpoint areas that need improvement through a needs assessment. Then, it establishes the groundwork for future DEIA initiatives and cultural transformation with guidance from a newly formed DEIA Steering Committee. Finally, it secures additional resources to bolster DEIA efforts in IPM through partnerships with DEIA programs and institutions by offering fellowships and funding for pilot projects directed at underserved communities.

The 2024 RFAs, along with video tutorials for using the online grant system, are available on the “Apply for Funding” page. A Q&A webinar will be held on Tuesday, November 7 at 11:00 ET (10:00 AM CT). Be sure to register in advance. Questions may also be sent to

This initiative marks a significant step towards enhancing DEIA within the field of IPM. Please visit our Funding page for information on these funding opportunities.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility graphic as a clover leaf.

Keeping Your Heads Scab Free: Fusarium Fungicide Sensitivity Screening- Podcast Posted

Fusarium is a pathogen that can affect crops many ways. Fusarium guilleformes can cause sudden death syndrome in soybeans, Fusarium oxysporum can cause root rotting in tomato, pepper, and eggplant. In this episode, Dr. Alyssa Koehler, assistant professor and extension specialist from the University of Delaware, and Dr. Marty Chilvers, associate professor from Michigan State University, focus on Fusarium graminearum, which is important due to the ways it affects grain production.

Fusarium graminearum produces a mycotoxin called deoxynivalenol (DON). Since mycotoxins can impact health when they are injested, they are closely regulated in the United States. Only very low levels of mycotoxins are allowed, which is fortunate for consumers, who are protected from mycotoxin contamination. However, this also means that a wheat field infected with Fusarium graminearum may produce grain that contains the DON mycotoxin, which would be rejected at market just when the farmer thinks it is time to profit.

Listen in to the full podcast to learn more about Fusarium, to gain a better understanding of Fusarium disease complexes and races, and to learn more about the mycotoxins Fusarium can produce. Spoiler alert: DON isn’t the only one.

An open bag of harvested wheat

2024 Funding Available for Critical Issue Research and Working Group Projects

The North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center will fund Critical Issue and Working Group projects focused on integrated pest management for 2024.

New this year, both projects share the same request for applications (RFA), and they have the same maximum funding amount of $30,000 as well. The Center has approximately $300,000 to distribute and expects to fund about 10 projects.

The 2024 RFA, along with video tutorials for using the online grant system, are available on the “Apply for Funding” page. A Q&A webinar will be held on Monday, September 25 at 11:00 ET (10:00 AM CT). Be sure to register in advance. Questions may also be sent to

Applicants are encouraged to align Critical Issue and Working Group proposals with the Center’s priorities. These priorities are based on the Center’s signature programs and are evaluated annually by regional stakeholders. Emphasizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in your project plan is imperative. Strategies that aim to bring benefits to underserved communities, including women and people of color are highly relevant and welcome. While past award recipients are eligible to apply, preference will be given to projects that describe plans for new goals or increasing collaboration.

All applications must be submitted online. The application deadline is Friday, November 17, 2023 at 5:00 pm ET (4:00 pm CT).

Funding Critical Issue and Working Group projects support the North Central IPM Center’s mission to improve the health, environment and economic conditions in the North Central region while using IPM to address pest-related challenges. This mission directly accomplishes the goals of the National IPM Roadmap.

Watch for other funding opportunities from the Center, which are coming soon!

The North Central IPM Center is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (2022-70006-38001).

2024 RFA for Critical Issue and Working Group Projects

Don’t Let Disease Blight Your Days: Potato Diseases Caused by Alternaria: Podcast Posted

Listen in as Dr. Julie Pasche of North Dakota State University discusses the Alternaria pathogen with host Ed Zaworski in this “I See Dead Plants” podcast. Alternaria causes early blight and brown leaf spot in potatoes. 

Potato agriculture is fascinating because different types of potatoes are grown for so many uses. Since potatoes are American’s number one vegetable, you will find them in 83% of menus in restaurants across the United States. However, the potato dishes vary dramatically, and it is interesting to explore the culture of how potatoes are used. Just like apples, potatoes are judged by their looks, with some going to the consumer shelf and others being used for cut products like hash browns or tater tots.

To continue enjoying all these potato dishes, it is important to be able to continue growing healthy potato plants and to be able to avoid diseases while storing potatoes as well. Starting with healthy seed potatoes is essential, but because seed potatoes are also potatoes, diseases must be avoided for multiple years in order to have a successful seed potato harvest. Growers who grow seed potatoes often have quarantine measures in place to prevent disease from being spread to their farms.

By some counts, there are over 40 diseases that can impact potato yields and profits. Alternaria is one pathogen and can cause early blight and brown leaf spot in potato crops. While it is not the most dramatic or damaging, it does tend to occur and affect production every year. It is important to know how to manage Alternaria, for effective management and potato storage and also to help protect the efficacy of management options as long as possible.

Listen to the full podcast for more details.


Western Bean Cutworm Overview: Podcast Posted

Listen in as Dr. Julie Peterson from the University of Nebraska Lincoln discusses western bean cutworm with host Ed Zaworski in this “I See Dead Plants” podcast.

Despite the name, “bean cutworm,” cutworms do not use soybeans as host plants. They lay eggs on corn and dry edible bean crops, and the larvae feast on new growth, such as corn tassels and then maturing corn kernels. In addition to the damage they cause, western bean cutworms spread disease between plants.

Be sure to listen to the full podcast to learn:

  • Tips for identifying western bean cutworm adults
  • Life cycle details along with where and when to scout for caterpillars
  • Management options, along with which fungicides no longer have good control
  • How use of Bt traits has affected this pest
  • Whether these cutworms are cannibals
western bean cutworm with stages of maturing cocoons along with an adult moth.
News webinar recording

Incorporating Poacic Acid into a Turfgrass Disease Management Program: Webinar Recording Published

Dr. Paul Koch, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, described recent efforts to use poacic acid to control dollar spot disease in turfgrass during the July “Pests and Progress” webinar.

Dollar spot is the most common disease affecting golf course turfgrass in temperate climates worldwide. Managing dollar spot can require 10 or more fungicide applications per year, which is increasing management costs. Dollar spot is also becoming resistant to the fungicide treatments that are available, and without treatment, the turf can be ruined.

Poacic acid, an agent that was a byproduct of biofuel production, has been found to have anti-fungal activities. Its antifungal properties were identified by Dr. Mehdi Kabbage and others at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and it that has shown promise in plant disease suppression.

Poacic acid is effective against dollar spot and snow mold in the lab but showed less control in the field. Since poacic acid does not mix well with water, Koch’s team partnered with industry to create an adjuvant to help the acid spread out and cover the blades of grass. Together, the adjuvant and poacic do suppress dollar spot to a degree, but it is not as effective as fungicides. Since the highest rate of poacic acid and the highest rate of adjuvant together produced the most control, trials will be repeated with increased concentrations to find the most effective rates.

Stay informed about poacic acid trials on Koch’s lab website, and learn more about turfgrass disease research and fungicide trials on the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab website.

Paul Koch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and has been with UW in various roles since 2005.  Paul’s research focuses primarily on developing precision disease management strategies for snow mold and dollar spot in turfgrass, investigating the fate and impact of turfgrass pesticides in the environment, and the turfgrass microbiome.


June “I See Dead Plants” Podcast Episodes

Sclerotinia Minor–Big Impact on Peanuts

Interviewee: Travis Faske of University of Arkansas
Did you know that some peanuts have three seeds in a pod? Learn about peanut production, 
the different varieties of peanuts, and what pests affect peanut production with an emphasis on the disease called Sclerotinia minor. While Sclerotinia minor is less common than some of the other diseases that affect peanuts, its effects are dramatic: plant foliage appears to melt as the plant dies. Learn how to spot the symptoms along with tips for when to start fungicide applications. 

The Emerald Executioner: An Overview of Emerald Ash Borer

Interviewee: Dr. Cliff Sadof of Purdue University
The emerald ash borer was first identified in Detroit, Michigan in 2002. Since then, it has spread throughout the Eastern and Midwest U.S. and continues to spread in the South and Western United States. Sadof discusses why the emerald ash borer is fatal to trees, when to start treating your trees if the borer is spreading to your area, and when a tree has reached the “point of no return” after infestation. Learn to stay safe around heavy, fragile, dying ash trees, along with hope for this tree genus in the future. 

Emerald ash borer. Photo by David Cappaert,


Yields Being Grabbed by Dead Man’s Fingers: Taproot Decline of Soybean

Interviewee: Dr. Vinson Doyle of Louisiana State University
Xylaria necrophora, or “dead man’s fingers,” ultimately kills the soybean plants that it infects. While it is named for the black structures with white tips that grow out of infested plants (or often, dead trees), it is ideal to learn to recognize earlier disease symptoms, which are described. Xylaria necrophora also uses chemical warfare against other disease pathogens. Learn what this means for soybeans. 


Register for the 2023 Tick Academy

The 2023 “Tick Academy” event hosted by the Tick IPM Working Group will be held virtually on Wednesday, October 11 and Thursday, October 12, 2023. 

This event will interest pest control professionals, educators, students, researchers, public health professionals, public-space managers and citizen scientists interested in learning more about what they can do to stop the spread of ticks and tickborne diseases in their communities. Event speakers will include Tammi Johnson, Alexis White, Susan Paskewitz, Bob Maurais, Brian Allan and more. There will be time for a question and answer session after each presentation.

Registration is required, and the cost is $25 per day. Discounts are available for students.