In this project, the focus is on trying to understand the dynamics of the wheat curl mite and what conditions cause it to move, said Jacob Price, a research associate working with Rush.

"We are monitoring movement of the wheat curl mite where it lives on natural rangeland and Conservation Reserve Program grasses and monitoring movements on the southwest winds in the early spring and summer to wheat," Price said.

Researchers want to find out where the mite populations live between seasons and if environmental factors perpetuate movement of the mite and the subsequent wheat viral diseases.

This project includes working with two private producers, as well as on the research farm, Price said. Grass is collected from the fields and the wheat curl mites are washed out and tested individually to determine if they are carrying the wheat streak mosaic and triticum mosaic viruses.

"In doing so, we can find natural populations of wheat curl mite and determine where the diseases already exist in an area," he said. "Then we will use environmental data to determine if certain conditions cause the mite to move and transport the disease to newly planted wheat fields."

In a separate study, Price planted an area of a wheat field in July and allowed it to become infested with the virus-carrying mites. Now he will plant the remainder of the field to wheat and monitor the movement.