Montana’s Schutter Diagnostic Laboratory is a critical component of extension outreach, and routinely processes over 2,000 samples per year for county extension, agricultural professionals, and citizens. The diagnostic lab is often the first place new pests in the state are identified. In 2017, first reports included the elm seed bug - Arocatus melanocephalus – from Ravalli County, damage to cabbage on a local foods farm by the invasive root weevil – Cathormiocerus spinosus – in Gallatin County, Fusarium root rot on chia and quinoa from Hill County, and Phoma stem blight on quinoa from Toole county. Researchers helped clients accurately identify plants to assess plant toxicity. For example, several elk died after eating an ornamental shrub identified as ornamental yew (Taxus x media), a shrub that has been implicated in wildlife losses in Idaho residential areas. Through the proper identification of an invasive weed Crepis tectorum – narrowleaf hawksbeard – Schutter Laboratory helped growers reduce populations and conserve crop yield. Growers have changed management practices, increased scouting, and have saved over $6 million in Valley County and over $200 million in the MonDak area due to crop yield losses that would have been incurred from this weed.
NIFA supports this work with funding from the Crop Protection and Pest Management Program.
To learn more about Montana’s Extension IPM project, please visit the project page at NIFA’s Data Gateway.
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