Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

NNY Alfalfa Growers: Order Biocontrol Nematodes Now to Protect 2016 Crop

Applying biocontrol nematodes to an alfalfa field in northern NY. Adapted ATVs and other on-farm equipment are also used to apply the combination of two native NY species of nematodes that NNYADP-funded research has proven can successfully reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations. Photo: NNYADP

Applying biocontrol nematodes to an alfalfa field in northern NY. Adapted ATVs and other on-farm equipment are also used to apply the combination of two native NY species of nematodes that NNYADP-funded research has proven can successfully reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations. Photo: NNYADP

The Shields Lab at Cornell University is asking farmers interested in ordering or applying the biocontrol nematodes proven successful for limiting the highly destructive alfalfa snout beetle to contact the Lab at 607-591-1493 before April 29 if they are planning to apply the nematodes before July 1.

The Shields Lab is also interested in talking with anyone interested in rearing the biocontrol nematodes as a business enterprise.

Farmers have the option to purchase a shipment of the biocontrol nematodes from the Shields Lab or to request assistance in rearing the nematodes themselves.

The cost to purchase the biocontrol nematodes from the Shields Lab is $26 per acre. Growers using their own labor to rear the biocontrol nematodes may reduce the cost to approximately $15 per acre.

Approximately five agribusinesses in the region provided custom application of the nematodes in 2015.

Applications must be made by September 1. The April 29 ordering date from the Lab includes the opportunity for a ten percent discount for delivery for application by June 15. A ten percent discount will be provided to participants paying upon delivery.

The Shields Lab recommends applying the nematodes to alfalfa fields in the seeding or first production year for best economic impact.

If farmers choose to apply the biocontrol nematodes to more established alfalfa fields, the nematodes will establish and attack snout beetle larvae present in the fields, but will not assist with stand retention.

The Shields Lab plans to discontinue its rearing of the nematodes by 2021. Cornell entomologist Elson Shields says, ‘Alfalfa snout beetle will remain a potential threat as long as alfalfa is grown in the region, so we are also very interested in assisting anyone interested in rearing these biocontrol nematodes as a business enterprise so this control agent remains available to Northern New York farmers after 2021.’

With long-term funding by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Shields and Cornell University Research Support Specialist Tony Testa developed a complete understanding of the life cycle of alfalfa snout beetle and created the science-based, field-tested protocol for using a combination of two species of native New York nematodes to control the beetle. Their guide to rearing and applying the biocontrol nematodes is online at www.nnyagdev.org.

In 2015, with cost-sharing assistance from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, 22 farms applied the biocontrol nematodes for the first time. To date, 77 farms have applied the biocontrol nematodes, protecting a total of 14,000 acres.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Economic impact reports for 2012-2015, project reports, resource links, and NNY events are posted on nnyagdev.org.

MORE INFO:
Click to learn more about the NNY agribusinesses that assisted nematode applications in 2015: www.nnyagdev.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/NNYADPASBagbusinessPR.pdf.

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