Dr. Erin Hodgson started working in the Department of Entomology, now the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology, at Iowa State University in 2009. She is a professor with extension and research responsibilities in corn and soybeans. She has a general background in integrated pest management (IPM) for field crops. Dr. Hodgson's current extension and research programs are focused on improving corn and soybean production by using IPM tactics to protect yield and increase overall farmer profits. Among other projects, she oversees insecticide efficacy evaluations for soybean aphids, Japanese beetles, and aphids in corn. Erin also helps manage emerging field crop pests and invasive species. 

Photo of Erin Hodgson

Daren Mueller is an associate professor and extension plant pathologist at Iowa State University. He is also the coordinator of the Iowa State Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program. Daren received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996, and his master's degree and doctorate in Plant Pathology from the University of Illinois-Urbana in 1999 and 2001. Daren’s main research interests involve understanding the biology and management of field crop diseases. Daren is also a co-director of the North Central IPM Center and the Crop Protection Network.

Dr. Alison Robertson is a professor of plant pathology and microbiology. She provides extension education on the diagnosis and management of corn and soybean diseases. Her research interests include Pythium seedling disease of corn and soybean and Goss's wilt. Dr. Robertson received her bachelor's degree in plant pathology in 1991 from the University of Kwazulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, and came to the United States in 1999 to pursue a doctoral degree in plant pathology at Clemson University. She started working at Iowa State University in May 2004.

Alison Robertson photo

Adam Sisson is an extension specialist with the Iowa State University Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program and a Certified Crop Adviser. Sisson focuses on the development of publications and other educational resources for farmers, agribusiness, and students. He received his bachelor's degree in agronomy and environmental studies in 2006 and a master's degree in sustainable agriculture in 2009; both from Iowa State University. 

Dr. Mark Licht is an associate professor and extension cropping systems specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. His extension, research and teaching program is focused on how to holistically manage Iowa cropping systems to achieve productivity, profitability and environmental goals. Research is centered around varied aspects of soybean, corn and cover crop management as well as agronomic implications of precision technologies.

Meaghan Anderson is a field agronomist in central Iowa and an extension field specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Educational programming is available for farmers, agribusinesses, pesticide applicators, certified crop advisors, and other individuals interested in crop production.

Areas of expertise include weed management, weed biology, cover crops, corn and soybean management, and integrated pest management.

Subscribe to the Central Iowa Crop Update for current topics and agriculture events in the area.

Meaghan Anderson

Dr Laura Jesse Iles directs the North Central IPM Center.   Dr. Iles has earned B.S. (Animal Ecology), M.S. (Entomology), and Ph.D. (Co-major in Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) degrees, all from Iowa State University.  In addition to directing the PIDC, Dr Iles serves as the entomology diagnostician. As part of the ISU Integrated Pest Management Program Dr. Iles provides educational training in the broad areas of consumer horticulture, biological control, and invasive insect management.

Laura Jesse Iles

Dr. Sotirios Archontoulis is an assistant professor of integrated cropping systems at the Department of Agronomy. His main research interests involve understanding complex Genotype by Management by Environment interactions and modeling various components of the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. Dr. Archontoulis's overall goal is to investigate practices that can increase the efficiency of system by means of increasing crop yields and simultaneously decreasing inputs or losses such as water and nitrogen. His approach combines field experimentation and use of mechanistic simulations models.

May 3, 2016 3:12 PM

Replanting is something we hope we don’t have to do a lot of, but if we do, there are some good resources to use to help make those decisions.

Stand assessment and replant decisions are often (OK, almost always) agonizing. It is hard to leave a stand that is below...

Crop Production
May 3, 2016 9:45 AM

You should visit the newly formatted and revised Corn Nitrogen Rate Calculator (CNRC) website. The site has a new url ( ). For Iowa, there are now two regions, the Main Iowa area and a Southeast Iowa area (SEIA) – see...

Soil Fertility
April 29, 2016 4:18 PM

We have had a couple windows of opportunity for fieldwork this spring. The week of April 10 to 17 saw a lot of fieldwork completed. Also, there was some fieldwork completed on April 23. I am referring to an area around Clay County and parts of Dickinson and Buena Vista counties.


Crop Production
April 25, 2016 3:46 PM

Accelerated, early planting in some parts of the state increases pressure on applicators of preemergence herbicide to speed up sprayers to cover a larger numbers of acres. Increased speeds increase boom pressure for existing nozzles, and can tempt applicators to increase boom height. Both...

Equipment and Machinery, Weeds
April 25, 2016 11:52 AM

Corn typically requires 90 to 120 Growing Degree Days (GDD) from planting to emergence. Of course this GDD range assumes adequate soil moisture and varies with planting depth, tillage system and residue cover. As a rule of thumb, if 120 GDD have accumulated since planting and seedlings haven’t...

Crop Production
April 23, 2016 9:48 AM

Had a question why winter annuals, specifically henbit, are so thick this year.  Two main factors: 1) ample moisture at the end of last year's growing season, and 2) a relatively mild winter.  Most winter annuals emerge in late August-September, in many years we don't have enough soil moisture...

April 20, 2016 1:25 PM

I’ve received a few questions asking what the purple weed is that is appearing in the landscape. It is probably either purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum) or henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).
These weeds often get confused because they look similar. They both belong to the...

April 20, 2016 11:12 AM

Many of you are aware that a few years ago we collected diseased soybean seedlings from fields across the Midwest and identified organisms associated with the rotted roots. This soybean seedling disease survey was funded by USDA-NIFA and soybean check-off and the identification of the organisms...

Plant Diseases
April 20, 2016 10:24 AM

I received one report of a cereal rye control failure this week as temperatures warmed and rye growth resumed. Some follow-up questions and photos showed that concerns regarding burndown applications during cool, early-spring conditions have merit.

A southeast...

April 19, 2016 2:42 PM

The recent rainfall broke a string of dry days for us. Spencer received about 0.7 inches of rain. Storm lake, Spirit Lake and other areas in the highway 71 corridor received a similar 0.4 to 0.7 inches. However, areas east of Highway 4 did not receive much rain and are returning to the field...

Crop Production
April 19, 2016 9:49 AM

The focus has been on planting corn, but don't forget about the weeds. In addition to getting preemergence herbicides applied to the corn acres, burndown applications on no-till soybean fields should be a top priority. Timely application of burndown herbicides simplifies controlling many winter...

April 18, 2016 4:09 PM

Overall, planting was variable in many parts of the state from Wednesday, April 13, to Sunday, April 17. After five days of great weather and good seedbed conditions, some farmers are completely done with corn, some were able to begin and reach the halfway mark, and others are still doing...

Crop Production
April 18, 2016 3:58 PM

Weather conditions this past week (April 13-17) kicked off corn planting for many farmers throughout the state. As soil temperatures rose above 50°F towards the end of the week, farmers were able to dive into fieldwork and planting corn.

See statewide planting progress and field...

Crop Production, Insects and Mites, Soils, Weeds
April 15, 2016 11:12 AM

A couple of weeks ago in a blog post, I shared with you some research we are doing on the effects of cold stress on soybean susceptibility to seedling...

Plant Diseases
April 14, 2016 10:05 AM

It seems that anhydrous ammonia (AA) applications and planting may fall very close together on the timeline of events this spring. This could be concerning with drying soils and lack of significant rainfall chances in the near future.

Important notes to remember:

1) Application...

Crop Production, Soils, Soil Fertility
April 11, 2016 2:08 PM

Planting season is or soon will be underway. This presents an opportunity to talk about a few things; 1) ideal conditions for planting, 2) seeding depth, and 3) imbibitional chilling.

Planting conditions
Ideal planting conditions are when the soil temperature...

Crop Production
April 11, 2016 1:53 PM

In March, I posted a blog about alfalfa weevils laying eggs in SE Iowa. Degree days have been slowly accumulating in April. I've updated the degree day map for 2016 and alfalfa weevils should be...

Crop Production, Insects and Mites
April 9, 2016 12:36 PM

A 'true' weed ecologist probably would have shuddered at my explanation to young 4-H'ers how weeds survive our control efforts:  

1) shake them off (giant ragweed) or 2) overrun them with numbers (waterhemp).


April 7, 2016 8:58 PM

I've had a lot of questions/discussions this week about planting corn. I had some growers get started Monday, some others were going to start towards the middle or tail end of this week, a few were going to wait until Monday, and a few were undecided. When to start planting was probably...

Crop Production
April 5, 2016 1:39 PM

Bean leaf beetle adults are susceptible to cold weather and most will die when the air temperature falls below 14°F (-10°C). However, they have adapted to winter by protecting themselves under plant debris and loose soil. An overwintering survival model developed at ISU in 2000 is helpful for...

Insects and Mites
April 5, 2016 8:13 AM

The rapid spread of herbicide resistant weeds threatens the current Midwest production system. Introduction of new herbicide resistance traits will provide additional management options for resistant-prone weeds such as waterhemp, giant ragweed, and marestail; however, these systems must be used...

Herbicide Resistance
April 4, 2016 2:31 PM

Research can be frustrating. For the past 5 years, my lab has been evaluating seed treatments on soybean. In an effort to detect an effect of seed treatment on soybean stand and yield, in 2015 we planted our trials very early (mid-April). A few days later, it rained, soil temperatures dropped...

Plant Diseases
March 28, 2016 4:45 PM

As I did some reading in preparation of writing this blog, I found there are various definitions of soil health. And I am sure for as many definitions as there are, we each have our own ideas as to what defines soil health. The USDA-NRCS Soil Health web page defines soil health as "the continued...

Soil Management
March 28, 2016 8:52 AM

You may have heard of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), an invasive insect making its way across the U.S. The first live detections of BMSB in Iowa were in 2011. Laura Jesse, Director of the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Lab, has now confirmed BMSB in 12 Iowa counties (see a map...

Crop Production, Insects and Mites
March 25, 2016 6:10 PM

Meaghan and Bob’s blog posts on weeds, and seeing a floater spraying yellow herbicide in 30 mph winds on Monday, reminded me to do an update on our newest problem child in the weeds world, Palmer amaranth. While we hoped that the few infestations scattered across Iowa could be contained,...