Exploring Pest Management and Production Benefits of Cultivar Mixtures

Posted: July 2, 2013

Can mixing cultivar varieties within a field help with pest management?

It has long been recognized that genetic diversity can be valuable for fending off diseases. This is true for humans, other animals, and plants. In fact, it is a common tactic around the world to manage diseases in crop production by mixing together different genetic crop varieties into what are called “cultivar mixtures.”

This approach works because diseases spread more slowly across genetically diverse fields. Cultivar mixtures have been common in small grain production in Europe and Asia, but have not caught on in the US. However, recent research suggests the benefits of cultivar mixtures extend to insect control and that mixtures consistently yield as well or better than monocultures.

A current USDA-funded research project at Penn State is now exploring the production and pest control benefits of cultivar mixtures at four sites in Pennsylvania (Berks, Centre, and Lancaster [two sites] Counties), and one site in Maryland (Washington County). This spring we featured this project during field workshops at each of the sites, and for the one in Berks County, we recorded some of the presentation. To learn more about the project, check out the youtube clip.

If you have further interest or questions about our project, please contact John Tooker.

Contact Information

John Tooker
  • Extension Specialist
Phone: 814-865-7082