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Anna Long

Coming to a Close

Two weeks ago today I had my last day at CLEREL and I already miss it!  I had such a great summer filled with amazing people and experiences.  I was able to get a hands on feel for research, I gained exposure to hops and grapes, I went to California and collected data in table and wine grape vineyards, I attended an NGWI conference in Napa and met a lot of influential people in the industry, and I started to think more seriously about what my plans should be after I graduate next May.CroppedTSSM

My last week was devoted to the hops.  I collected my leaves on Monday and spent the next few days counting mites.  I also borrowed a camera, which I was able to hook up to the microscope and take some photos of TSSM and predatory mites.  The photo to the left is a two spotted spider mite, distinguishable by the two black spots on either side of its abdomen.  The photo below is a predatory mite and if you look closely, you can see the outline of an egg.  It’s hard to determine the species of the predatory mite, as the only difference between species is the shape of the anal plate at the back of the abdomen.croppedPM

That Thursday, Tim cut down the Brewer’s Gold from the variety row in the hopyard and ran them through the harvester he made. After they went through we still had to pick a lot of the cones off by hand.  Tim is still trying to perfect the harvester and make it more efficient than hand harvesting.  Some of the bines had male flowers, which are the smaller, almost white flowers next to the cones in the photo below.   Once the hops had been harvested, Kim figured out the moisture percentage and how much the hops should weigh when they reach 10% moisture.  They were then put into a drying oven, and a sample was weighed periodically until it reached the target weight for 10% unnamedmoisture.  Kim used a moisture calculator found at the University of Vermont extension website here:

Today, I drove up to Geneva from Cornell, where I am back in the swing of classes.  I met Karen, a woman who works with mites at a lab there, and she helped me identify the predatory mites I had saved on slides.  I still have a few to go through, but mmale flowersost of the ones I collected are N. fallacis.  I did find several tydeid mites, which feed on fungus, not TSSM.  Under a microscope they looked distinctly different than the two species I released, which are phytoseiid mites. I will go through the rest of my slides on campus in Ithaca and finish putting all of my data together.  I am almost done with my project, and will be ready to present at the Internship Reception in October.

Where are the Predatory Mites?

Last week a group of us from the lab took a trip to Empire Farm Days, which is a three day event focused on agricultural related topics.  A lot of it is machinery and equipment, but there is a building for the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  We set up a table with information on GPS sensing and grape pests, but unfortunately not too many people stopped to chat with us about these topics.  There were many people from the extension there with booths and information on agriculture, so the attendees did learn something new, even if it wasn’t related to vineyard management.unnamed

On Wednesday I went to a vineyard/hopyard in Pennsylvania with Tim and Luke.  We were only there for about an hour in the morning, but it gave me the opportunity to see an actual production hopyard outside those planted for research and extension.  The hopyard was much bigger than those here and in Geneva, and it was also the shorter production rows, instead of the tall ones.  It was really interesting to see the amount of cones that will be harvested from their plants; they were heavy with them and will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks.  As we were walking down their rows we did see some TSSM damage though; hopefully they can take the right measures to get rid of them before they infest the conunnamed1es and damage their crop.

The rest of the week I spent counting the mites from the leaf samples I collected Wednesday afternoon.  The TSSM are really starting to spike in some areas of the hopyard, and I am starting to see the bronzing on the leaves that is characteristic damage of TSSM (photo to the left).  However, as I keep mentioning, I am not seeing the numbers of predatory mites I should be.

I had a conference call with Greg about my project and we talked about potential reasons why the predatory mites aren’t there.  Heavy rainfall will cause the mites to wash away from the leaves, which would result in lower numbers following a storm.  Also, predatory mites don’t move with the wind using spinnerets the way TSSM do, sunnamed4o if they don’t have a food source readily available, they will crawl to find a new one; my best guess would be down to the ground where there are other plants and weeds where they can feed on pollen.  I am going to go back and look at the weather, especially rainfall, the day before I collected my leaf samples each week and the day after I released the predatory mites in June to see if that could be the cause.

After our discussion we decided that I should release some more predatory mites into the hopyard.  On Thursday I ordered 20,000 more N. fallacis and had them overnighted so I could release them on Friday.  This time I released them at the opposite end of the hopyard that I released them at in June.  This week will be my last week of counting, but I am hoping to see more predatory mites at the end of the row where I released them.  If I still am not seeing them there will be another interesting project for someone in the future looking at where they might be going!



Homeward Bound

I had an amazing time in California last week and couldn’t have asked for a better experience!  As I mentioned two weeks ago, we were in Delano sensing two different table grape vineyards, one of which was already being harvested.  That Friday we sensed a merlot J. Lohr vineyard in Paso Robles, which was one of my favorite places we visited.  It is in the hills, rather than the valley, and even though California is in the middle of a severe drought and everything is brown, it was still beautifudriving ATVl!  On Saturday we sensed a petite sirah Gallo vineyard.  Seeing the management and quality of these vineyards was amazing; they were trellised and maintained almost perfectly.

The sensors we were using were Crop Circle canopy sensors produced by Holland Scientific that measure the vegetative index.  We had two that we attached to an ATV or tractor to get two different readings from the vines (photo to the left).  The sensors were also hooked up to a data logger, along with a GPS.  As we drove down the rows of the vineyard the sensors would collect the data and the GPS would keep track of the location, which allows the data to be compared throughout the vineyard and exact locations of data points to be recorded.

I also attended the NGWI (National Wine and Grape Initiative) conference last Monday.   The morning was spent in the vineyard at the UC Davis experimental station where a researcher from Carnegie Mellon talked about his research on nondestructive yield estimates (photo to the right).  He has created an imaging system tunnamedhat takes photos at set intervals that can be used to estimate the yield.  The rest of the day was spent listening to other researchers talk about their projects.  The most educational aspect for me was learning about the funding and grant writing that goes into the projects, which is something I have known about, but listening to the discussion first hand was interesting.

The meeting was finished off with a wine reception and dinner at Louis M Martini wine cellar in Napa.  It was one of the most delicious dinners I have ever had and in one of the most unique locations.  How many people can say they have dined by candle light in a wine cellar surrounded by giant oak barrels?  The reception allowed me to talk with several different people and make invaluable connections that will hopefully open doors for me in the future.  The trip as a whole cemented my interest in the field, and with my undergraduate education coming to an end, it has gotten me thinking about potential job opportunities and options in the wine and grape industry.

We were also able to have some fun on the trip! Friday afternoon was spent driving up the coast, and we stopped several times to take photos of the view.  One of the spots we stopped at had a trail that we followed down to a rocky shore line where there were tidal pools with anemones aCoastnd clams.  Farther up the coast, in Monterey, we stopped at a beach and waded in the Pacific Ocean.  On Sunday we drove into San Francisco, where we walked part way across the Golden Gate Bridge, and rode the cable car down to the fisherman’s wharf where we ate lunch at the Boudin sourdough bakery.  San Francisco is definitely a city I would love to go back to with more time to explore!

The end of last week was spent counting the mites on the hop leaves Kim collected for me on Tuesday while I was gone.  There has definitely been an increase in TSSM, and the mites aren’t found everywhere, but rather in little pockets around the hopyard.  I still haven’t found very many predatory mites and Tim has suggested that maybe I release more at the opposite end of the hopyard, as some of the TSSM numbers are above the 5-10 mites per leave threshold for July.  Next week I will have a better update for you, as I will be discussing my project with Tim and Greg, my faculty supervisor for the project on Wednesday.

The two vineyard photos and the photo of the coast were taken by Terry Bates

Fredonia to Delano

Each week I learn more and more about how important it is to manage pest issues both in the hopyard and vineyard.  Last week I was able to spend the day with Luke, the Viticulture Extension Specialist here at CLEREL, in Niagra County.  We visited four different vineyards and did a follow-up winter damage assessment.  We unnamed3ranked the vines by the number of clusters they had and by their growth.  We also noted any disease we saw in the vines; we saw quite a bit of crown gall, downy mildew, and powdery mildew (photo to the right).  I really enjoyed meeting all of the vineyard owners and listening to them talk about their management practices and the work they put into their vineyards.  Hopefully I will have more photos of the diseases to pphoto(1)ost later.

The rest of last week and the beginning of this week were spent working on my project in the hops.  I collected both my low and high leaf samples and counted the predatory mites and the TSSM on the leaves.  I still haven’t seen very many of the predatory mites I released with Kim in June, but I am starting to see increasing numbers of TSSM and I have a feeling these numbers will only keep rising.

Now for some exciting news!  I landed safely in Sacremento, California yesterday where I will be until next Tuesday. I was able to join Terry Bates, the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Director, scan vineyards from Delano to Napa Valley.  This is my first trip to California, and I couldn’t be more excited!  Today we scanned two table grape vineyards in Delano and tomorrow we will be in Paso Robles. It is amazing to see how much farther along the table grapes were than the grapes at home (photo to the left); a lot of the table grape vineyards are already being harvested. I will have lots of news and photos from my trip to share with you when I get back next week!

New Plantings

Last week was busy down here and we lost a Friday because of Independence Day, so I have two weeks to catch up on!  I have spent a lot of time outside in the vineyards these past two weeks and that has been a lot of fun.  Most of the work has involved Tim’s rootworm project, both his experimental nematode  pots here at the office unnamed2(photo to the right) and a spray trial out in the vineyard.  Last week we counted rootworm (photo to the lower left) in different blocks that would be treated with different insecticides and on Wednesday of this week we examined the plants to see if the sprays had been effective.  When scouting for rootworm it is important to recognize the damage they cause on the plants and leaves.  The photo on the lower right shows the chain-like feeding pattern characteristic of rootworm adults.

There are weekly meetings called Coffee Pot meetings that growers can attend to discuss what is going on in the vineyards, and I was able to attend them the past two Wednesday’s.  I don’t have a lot of knowledge or experience about what it takes to actually manage a vineyard and it was really interesting to listen to what the growerunnamed1s had to say.  Pesticides and nutrient requirements were the major topics of discussion. I have learned about both of these in my classes at Cornell, but it really solidifies the information when you are talking about it with actual growers; it’s beneficial to listen to the important factors to consider, such as what the major nutrient issues are and which pesticides are recommended for which pest and labeled for use in New York.

I once again took my weekly leaf samples and counted both TSSM and predatory mites.  I have seen an increase in TSSM, but I am not seeing very many predatory mites.  This isn’t what I expected, as I released 40,000 predatory mites into the hopyard, so it will be interesting to see the kind of numbers I get in the coming weeks.unnamed

On Friday we were outside all day planting another hopyard!  There are five more production rows of different varieties, Centennial, Perle, Newport, Sterling, and Fuggle.  This will allow research to be done on more varieties, as well as in two separate plots, which will eventually allow for a project to be done on the release times of predatory mites.

Saturday I went to another Hops Field Day, similar to the one CLEREL held in June, but this time in Geneva.  There were several speakers discussing topics relevant to interested growers.  I was able to talk a little bit about my project and the data I have collected, as well as general scouting a hop grower would do in his yard for TSSM.

Rootworm photos by Tim Weigle

Scouting, Scouting, and more Scouting

Last Saturday was the hops conference here at CLEREL and it was a success!  Aspiring growers came from across Newunnamed5 York, as well as from Pennsylvania and Ohio.  The morning consisted of speakers talking about basic hop topics, such as the actual planting of the hopyard, nutrition, and the economics behind starting a yard and marketing the hop cones at the end of the growing season.  Most of the literature search I have done has been focused on the science side of hops, so it was really beneficial to learn about the actual planting and the processes that go into managing and marketing a hopyard.

The afternoon took place outside in the hopyard with separate stations.  One station had two experienced growers asking questions, one was a pit dug next to several hop plants with the roots exposed to show their structure.  Hop plants grow via rhizomes,unnamed2 which are essentially stems of the plant that grow underground and the roots and main stem then sprout from the rhizome.  The photo above shows the root structure spray painted white.  The other stations discussed irrigation techniques and trellis construction, while I led a station discussing my research project and scouting protocols (photo to the left).  I think all of the attendees had a good time and learned a lot, I know I did!

This past week I helped with a lot of pest scouting in grapes.  On Monday, I scouted for rootworm alongside the fieldworkers.  Despite not finding any last week, there was evidence of rootworm this week and we brought some samples back to the lab.  I also helped Kim, whose main job is mapping, put together pest traps, which we set up in several vineyards and nurserunnamedies on Tuesday.  The goal of the traps is to find and identify different invasive species, but the traps have been put out in past years and none have been found.  In a couple of weeks we will go back and see if there is anything in them.

A continual effort has been made to collect leaf samples from the hopyard and count spider mites, just as I have done the past two weeks.  This week I did see several, but not enough for them to be causing any kind of serious damage in the yard.  The economic threshold for June is 1-2 mites per leaf, so I’m not even close to that number yet, as I would have to be finding over 400 mites, but I know they are coming.  Like spiders, twospotted spider mites spin webs and move with the wind using spinnerets, so once they get moving, they will move quickly.  I released the predatory mites on Thursday, both N. californicus and N. fallacis.  They came packaged with corn meal (photo to the right) to add weight and volume when they are sprinkled on the plants.  I kept several of each species on a slide and will have to really study their unique and defining characteristics to make sure I can tell the difference when I find them in the field.

Ups and Downs of Field Research

This week was an exciting one for me as I got some first-hand experience with the ups and downs of field research.  I started off the week by calling IPM Laboratories to order the predatory mites, but after talking to a woman on the phone about the setup of my project, she told me that my experimental design was not going to work because the mites move with the wind and they wouldn’t necessarily stay where they were placed in the hopyard, making it hard to track different times of release. So back to the drawing board I went!  After some discussion with my site supervisor, Tim Weigle, it was decided that since the issue with the previous design was that the predatory mites are going to move too quickly through the hopyard, we would use that as our study.  How quickly do the predatory mites spread when they are placed at the end of the four production rows?unnamed

I took leaf samples again this week and spent another day counting TSSM under the microscope (photo to the right).  However, instead of taking my samples from the same marked plants that I took them from last week, I took them from every sixth hop plant in each row.  This way I can monitor how far down the row the predatory mites move each week.  I also ordered 20,000 N. californicus, which is a predatory mite most often used in greenhouse settings and 20,000 N. fallacis, which is widely used in the Northwest hop growing regions of the United States.  Hopefully they will come in at the beginning of next week so I can start releasing them!

Since CLEREL is home to the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program (LERGP), I have been hoping to get out and work in the vineyards, and this week I was able to!  I joined the field crew as they scouted for rootworm on Monday (lower left photo).  Tim is currently working on a project looking at nematodes as a control mechanism for rootworm, so later in the week I helped him inoculate potted grapevines with nematodes (lower right photo), which are sent and packaged up in wax worm cadavers.


Tomorrow CLEREL is hosting a Hops Conference, which is an opportunity for aspiring growers to come and visit the hopyard here and learn about nutrition, processing, marketing, and other essentials of managing a hopyard in the Lake Erie Region.  Next week I will have some photos and news to share with you from the conference!

Hop to It

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Collecting leaf samples from the hopyard.

I am very excited to be finishing up my first full week of work at CLEREL (Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab) in Portland, NY!  My role this summer as a Cornell Cooperative Extension intern  is to study the effect of predatory mites on two-spotted spider mites (TSSM) as a pest management control in different hop varieties.  Getting started I was about as familiar with mites and hops as you probably are, which was very little.  So I started off last week doing a literature search on anything and everything related to hops and spider mites.  Although I’m not an expert, I would like to think I am pretty familiar with the topic now, so I will share some of this newly acquired knowledge with you.

Hops used to be a prominent crop in New York State about 100 years ago, but pest issues drove the industry out.  With the passing of the Farm Brewery Act last year, hops are once again becoming a hot crop to grow.  The act is part of the “locally grown” movement and in order for a brewery to receive a Farm Brewery license at least 20% of the hops and 20% of all other ingredients in the beer must be grown in New York.  To add to this, Gov. Cuomo just dedicated funding for research in hops and barley.

With the history and politics out of the way let’s get to the research.  Predatory mites are a well-known and frequently-used biological control for TSSM, and research has been done concerning them.  However, only recently has research been done on varietal differences and there still hasn’t been much investigation of the timing of release of predatory mites.  This is where my internship at CLEREL starts.

My job is to run a study on three different hop varieties, Cascade, Nugget, and Willamette, looking at two different release times of predatory mites.  After I completed a solid literature search, I jumped right in on Tuesday by setting up a design for this study and taking leaf samples from the hopyard.  I then spent a day looking at these samples under a dissecting scope and counted all of the TSSM and this week there were a total of 2 mites on the 165 leaves.  I would say that’s a pretty good start.

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