Bees Fight White Mold, Help Save Crops

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Posted on April 18, 2016


Bees Fight White Mold, Help Save Crops

Article By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Photo Courtesy of: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Bees are amazing creatures that play a major role in agriculture.

Now, there’s evidence the insects can help fight Sclerotinia, a disease that hammers soybeans, canola and sunflowers, the Mandan, N.D.-based National Sunflower Association says.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture founded the National Sclerotinia Initiative in 2002 and continues to fund it annually to discover a control for the disease, also known as white mold and head rot.

As part of that initiative, Bee Vectoring Technologies International Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, has been working with sunflower growers in North Dakota and South Dakota — the nation’s dominant growers of the crop — to test a system of using bumblebees. The bees deliver mixtures of organic compounds that “inhibit or eliminate common crop diseases while also enhancing crops,” the National Sunflower Association says.

A demonstration and replicated trial of the system will be held in July and August at North Dakota State University’s Langdon Research Extension Service.

NDSU trial results are expected to be announced in September or October, the NSA says.