Champaign, Ill., 2/19/19: Researchers at the University of Illinois’ Prairie Research Institute are developing new pest degree day tools for the state’s specialty crop growers. A short online survey offers growers the opportunity to contribute their opinions on how this information is delivered.
Growers across Illinois use pest degree day accumulations to track insect development throughout the growing season and to aid in pest management decisions. Since 2004, the Illinois Climate Network has hosted an online pest degree day calculator that allows users to calculate degree days for 30 agricultural and invasive insects. The calculator uses weather data from 19 network stations to provide current degree days and forecasts based on historical long-term averages.
“The pest degree day calculator has been a great resource for 15 years,” said Jennie Atkins, manager of the Illinois Climate Network. “However, a lot has changed since 2004. Is the calculator still the best method for users, especially Illinois’ specialty crop growers, to obtain the information they need?”
Researchers hope to answer that question with help from growers. During February and March, growers are being asked to complete a short survey at https://go.illinois.edu/PDDSurvey to tell researchers how they use pest degree days, how they want to receive this information, and which pests are a current concern.
“The information we collect will be used to design new tools to better communicate with growers,” adds Kelly Estes, entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey.
The pest degree day calculator is available at the WARM website (https://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/). Researchers plan to have the new tools available by the end of 2020. The work is supported by the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
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