Cornell Field Crops News

Timely Field Crops information for the New York Agricultural Community

June 27, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Research Prompts Request for 23 Billion Biocontrol Nematodes by Farmers in Southwest; Protocol Expanding in NY

NNYADP Research Prompts Request for 23 Billion Biocontrol Nematodes by Farmers in Southwest; Protocol Expanding in NY

Cornell University Entomologist Elson Shields, right, talks with farmer Gary Frost as cups filled with biocontrol nematodes from New York State await application on Frost's farm in Dalhart, TX.

Cornell University Entomologist Elson Shields, right, talks with farmer Gary Frost as cups filled with biocontrol nematodes from New York State await application on Frost’s farm in Dalhart, TX. Photo courtesy of Patrick Porter

In May, Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields, Ph.D., and Research Support Specialist Antonio Testa transport 23 billion native New York nematodes to farms in Texas and New Mexico for field application against Western corn rootworm. Shields and Testa, who pioneered the use of biocontrol nematodes as a crop pest management protocol, built a generator-powered system to maintain a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the nematodes under the cap of a pickup truck.

Researchers, crop consultants, and farmers in several U.S. states are now testing the nematode application, initially developed to beat alfalfa snout beetle back, against an increasing number of agricultural crop pests.

With long-term funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Shields and Testa created the science and the nematode-rearing procotol behind the use of native nematodes for controlling alfalfa snout beetle, the most highly destructive crop pest of the alfalfa crops so critical to the regional dairy industry.

Over time, the biocontrol application has been field-tested and increasingly proven its value as a biocontrol for managing pests in corn, berries, potatoes, and potentially other crops.

“The science built and proven in Northern New York over the course of more than 30 years for using the native nematodes as a crop pest biocontrol has steadily expanded to help farmers across New York State and other states and to address pest issues in multiple crops,” said Shields. “The expansion of this cost-effective, easy-to-apply management practice would not be possible were it not for the long-term commitment the farmers of Northern New York needed to develop the science to support a solution for snout beetle.”

With local funding, Texas Agri-Life Extension entomologists and private ag consultants are jointly conducting large farm trials testing the NY nematodes as a biocontrol to manage corn rootworm in Dalhart, TX, and growers have completely funded trials in Riodoso, NM. Applications have been made to more than 900 acres using both ground application and through a center pivot irrigation system.

Having learned of the concept using persistent biocontrol nematodes while working in West Texas, a newly-hired Extension entmologist with Auburn University in Alabama recently contacted Shields about trying the biocontrol nematodes to manage billbugs, a type of beetle that impacts lawn, sod and grass crops.

In 2019 with a new grant from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Cornell University Cooperative Extension Field Crops Specialist Mike Hunter is evaluating the application of the biocontrol nematodes in manure as a way to incorporate the pest management practice into an existing farm task. The research prompted the creation of a new business enterprise now raising the biocontrol nematodes locally for application by farmers and custom spraying services in the Northern New York region.

The number of acres treated with biocontrol nematodes in Northern New York has steadily grown to protect the alfalfa crops on more than 20,000 acres. Shields estimates that recent dairy prices have curbed applications expected to cover more than 100,000 acres with the biocontrol nematodes by this time.

The Shields Lab at Cornell University has also received a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant to expand biocontrol nematode-corn rootworm applications throughout New York State and to assist similar start-up research in Vermont and Pennsylvania.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

June 27, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Weather Outlook – June 27, 2019

Weather Outlook – June 27, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures ranged within 2 degrees of normal. Precipitation has ranged from a quarter of an inch to over 3 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 70 to 150.

Mostly dry day today, possible severe storms on Friday and Saturday.

Today will be a mostly dry day with temperatures in the low to mid 80s and continued humid conditions. Overnight lows will be in the upper 50s to mid 60s.

Friday temperatures will be in the low to mid 80s with showers and thunderstorms possible in the afternoon to evening. Some storms could become severe (main concerns are damaging winds, large hail, and torrential downpours). Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s.

Saturday temperatures will be in the upper 70s to low 80s. There will be some lingering morning showers, then clearing with scattered afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible. Potential exists for strong to severe storms. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s.

Sunday highs will be in the upper 70s to low 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible before clearing and lower humidity. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to near 60.

Monday will be mostly dry, some isolates storms are possible, with temperatures in the 70s. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Tuesday highs will be in the 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60.

Wednesday highs will be in the upper 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s.

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from a trace to ¾ “ .

The 8-14 day outlook (July 4-10) favors above-normal temperatures for all of the state and slightly favors above-normal precipitation for part of the state.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

June 26, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Cereal Leaf Beetle Biocontrol Project Underway

Cereal Leaf Beetle Biocontrol Project Underway

Jaime Cummings, Ken Wise and Amara Dunn, NYS IPM

Cereal leaf beetle damage

Cereal leaf beetle damage on the flag leaf of a winter wheat plant. (Photo by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

The cereal leaf beetle (CLB), Oulema melanopus, can be a significant pest of winter and spring small grains production in NY, especially in parts of western NY.  This invasive species was first detected in Michigan in 1962, and has since become established in many grain producing states in the US, despite quarantine and pesticide eradication efforts in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Cereal leaf beetle adult and larval stages

Figure 1. Cereal leaf beetle adult and larval stages. (Photos by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

You may be familiar with this pest either in the larval or beetle stage (Fig. 1).  CLB has one or two generations per growing season, and the adults overwinter in hedgerows, woods or field margins.  We usually start seeing the adults move into small grains fields in April or May to lay eggs which develop into the damaging larvae.  The larger the larvae get, the more damage they inflict on the crop.  After about two weeks of feeding, the larvae drop to the ground and pupate for about two weeks before the adults emerge again.  When looking for these pests, keep an eye out for the typical larval feeding damage that looks like strips of green tissue missing between leaf veins.  Severely damaged leaves may appear skeletonized, and intense feeding pressure in a field may result in a ‘frosted’ appearance of flag leaves (Fig. 2).

Severe cereal leaf beetle larval feeding

Figure 2. Severe cereal leaf beetle larval feeding on winter wheat. (Photo by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

Considering that the top two leaves of the wheat/barley/oat crop are what contributes most to grain yield, severe infestations of CLB can significantly impact yield and grain quality.  Even in small grain or mixed stand forage crops, this pest can have negative effects on the yield and quality of the forage because they can significantly reduce leaf area and photosynthetic capability of the crop.  It’s important to scout for this pest, usually starting in early to mid-June when larvae are first appearing.  The economic threshold for insecticide application for CLB is when you count an average of three or more larvae per plant before the boot stage or one or more larvae per flag leaf after the boot stage.  Occurrence of this pest can be inconsistent within a field, therefore plan to scout weekly and walk a random pattern throughout each field stopping at 10 random locations to count larvae on 10 plants at each location.  Because insecticides labeled for CLB target the larval stages, in order for your pesticide applications to be most effective, make sure that at least 25% of CLB eggs have hatched and that larvae are present and actively feeding when you decided to spray.  And, if you’re seeing adults in late June or beyond, it’s probably too late to spray for the larvae.  (Always follow label recommendations and restrictions when applying pesticides.)

Paying attention to CLB populations in your fields via scouting is an important part of an integrated management approach for minimizing losses to this pest.  A growing degree day (GDD) model for CLB developed in Michigan determined that adult CLB begin to emerge around 350-400 GDD (base 48) to begin egg laying.  Unfortunately, there is no specific host plant resistance available for CLB, but there are natural predators of the larvae and eggs which can help to keep the pest population in check, and possibly below the economic threshold when well-established in an area.  Lady beetles are known to prey on CLB larvae and eggs, and there is at least one egg parasite though it is not widely distributed.  There is also a CLB larval parasitoid wasp, Tetrastichus julis, which was originally introduced from Europe as a biological control agent in Michigan in 1967 (Fig. 3).  Subsequent releases into other states, including NY in 1973, have led to a sporadic establishment of this biological control parasitoid throughout small grain production areas of the US.

parasitic wasp on a cereal leaf beetle larva

Figure 3. Tetrastichus julis, a parasitic wasp on a cereal leaf beetle larva. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Department of Agriculture)

Given that CLB damage can be widespread and undermanaged in many small grains fields in NYS, and under the advice of Dr. Elson Shields (Cornell University Field Crops Entomologist), the NYS IPM program decided to try to determine the parasitism levels of CLB larvae in various locations around the state and to try to increase populations of the parasitoid in the Aurora area of Cayuga County, where the CLB tends to be a perennial pest.  The multiyear project was initiated this year, with CLB larval collections from locations in six counties.  However, there were no CLB present to collect at two of the locations, so the data collected in 2019 includes only four locations (Table 1).  At each location, a target of approximately 100 CLB larvae of all different sizes/growth stages were collected by hand from wheat, barley or oat fields.  The larvae were temporarily reared in incubation chambers on host plant leaves until approximately half of the larvae were dissected to determine baseline parasitism levels for each location (Fig. 4).  The eggs of the parasitoid are visible when the CLB larvae are cut open under a microscope (Fig. 5).  After baseline parasitism levels were determined for each collection location, the other half of the CLB larvae were then released at the Cornell Musgrave research farm near Aurora, NY (Fig. 6).  This process will be repeated over the next few years.

Cereal leaf beetle rearing chambers and dissection process.

Figure 4. Cereal leaf beetle rearing chambers and dissection process. (Photo by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

Dissected CLB larvae, and one with T. julis parasitoid eggs

Figure 5. Dissected CLB larvae, and one with T. julis parasitoid eggs. (Photo by J. Cummings, NYS IPM)

Cereal leaf beetle larvae with known level of parasitism being released in Cayuga County

Figure 6. Cereal leaf beetle larvae with known level of parasitism being released in Cayuga County (Photos by J. Thomas-Murphy, Cornell University)

Table 1.  Cereal leaf beetle collection efforts

The goals of this project are to determine the established levels of the T. julis parasitoid around the state since the initial release in 1973, and to try to determine if we can increase its population at the research farm through consecutive releases.  From this first year of data collection, we know that the parasitoid population is low at the research farm (6%) and at two of the collection sites (7% and 10%), but was at approximately 30% at the Ithaca collection site (Fig. 7).  We also know that although there has been a need to spray insecticides to manage CLB at the research farm and near the other collection sites, there has been no need to spray for CLB at the Ithaca collection sites.  It’s likely that the T. julis parasitoid population at the Ithaca site keeps the CLB population below economic threshold levels.  We hope that by intentionally distributing this parasitoid into an area with known CLB problems, we can establish a robust parasitoid population that may result in a reduction of necessary insecticide sprays for this pest.

Figure 7.  Percent T. julis parasitized cereal leaf beetle larvae collected from various locations.

Figure 7. Percent T. julis parasitized cereal leaf beetle larvae collected from various locations.

June 25, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on U.S. and N.Y. Corn, Soybean ratings continue to be dismal, USDA crop progress report

U.S. and N.Y. Corn, Soybean ratings continue to be dismal, USDA crop progress report

While all of the corn crop is still not planted, the first U.S. soybean crop condition rating of the year is sharply below a year ago’s rating.

Corn

In its Crop Progress Report Monday, the USDA pegged U.S. corn planting at 96% complete, behind the 100% five-year average. New York is 75% planted behind last year’s 93% at the same time.

The planting rate is below what the trade had expected.

In its report, the USDA pegged the corn crop as in 56% good/excellent condition, below last week’s 59% rating.

As of Monday, New York’s corn crop was rated 38% good, 16% excellent.

Also, 55% of NY corn has emerged vs. a 82% five-year average.

Soybeans

In its report, the USDA pegged the U.S. soybean planting completion rate at 85% vs. a 97% five-year average. New York is 66% planted this week vs. 92% last year and 86% 5 year average.

The nation’s crop is rated as 54% good/excellent vs. a 73% rating at this time a year ago. New York is rated 41% good, 12% excellent.

Also, 35% of the NY soybean crop has emerged vs. 68% five-year average.

Wheat

The USDA pegged the NY winter wheat heading at 75% vs. 80% last year.

June 21, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Weather Outlook – June 20, 2019

Weather Outlook – June 20, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures ranged from near-normal to 6 degrees below normal. Precipitation has ranged from a tenth of an inch to 2 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 40 to 120.

Flash flood concerns as heavy rain is occurring today. High pressure will work into the state on Friday, bringing dry and sunny weather for the weekend. Next chance of rain is Monday into Tuesday.

Thursday there will be multiple rounds of moderate to heavy rain with gusty winds and strong thunderstorms possible. Heavy rain and flash flooding are concerns for some areas. Temperatures will be in the 70s. Overnight lows will be in the 50s.

Friday will have some lingering scattered showers in the morning with clearing conditions from west to east, gusty conditions, and temperatures ranging from the 60s to 70s. Overnight temperatures will be in the low 50s.

Saturday temperatures will be in the 70s with sunny and breezy conditions. Overnight temperatures will be in the low 50s.

Sunday highs will be in the upper 70 and low 80s with increasing clouds in the afternoon. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s with showers possible.

Monday temperatures will be in the upper 70s to low 80s with moderate humidity. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s. A frontal system will bring showers and thunderstorms Monday into Tuesday.

Tuesday highs will be in the upper 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s.

Wednesday highs will be in the upper 70s to low 80s. Overnight temperatures will be in the 60s.

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from ¾ ” to 2 ½ ” .

The 8-14 day outlook (June 27 – July 3) favors above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the entire state.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor|
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

June 17, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Pest Report, June 14, 2019

NYS IPM Weekly Field Crops Pest Report, June 14, 2019

June 13, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Weather Outlook – June 13, 2019

Weather Outlook – June 13, 2019

NOAA Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University

Last week temperatures ranged within 2 degrees of normal. Precipitation has ranged from half an inch to over 2 inches. Base 50 growing degree-days ranged from 40 to 120.

Unsettled conditions for most of the week with a few dry periods.

Today will be a rainy day with afternoon thunderstorms possible and temperatures will be cooler, in the mid 50s to mid 60s. Overnight lows will be in the upper 40s to low 50s with dry conditions.

Friday will also be cool with temperatures in the 50s to mid 60 for most areas with scattered showers likely, while western NY will have some sun and temperatures warming into the 70s. There will be gusty conditions with gusts of 20-30mph. Overnight temperatures will be in the upper 40s to low 50s with dry conditions.

Saturday temperatures will be in the low to mid 70s with dry conditions for most of the day before rain returns later in the day. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Sunday highs will be in the low to mid 70s with showers and thunderstorms possible. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Monday temperatures will be in the 70s with a chance of showers. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Tuesday highs will be in the 70s with a chance of showers. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

Wednesday highs will be in the 70s with a chance of showers. Overnight temperatures will be in the mid 50s to low 60s.

The seven-day precipitation amounts will range from ½” to 3” .

The 8-14 day outlook (June 20-26) slightly favors above-normal temperatures for a majority of the state. Above-normal precipitation is slightly favored for the state.

Maps of 8-14 day outlooks:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/index.php

National Weather Service watch/warnings map:
http://www.weather.gov/erh/

US Drought Monitor
http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home.aspx

Drought Impact Reporter:
https://droughtreporter.unl.edu/map/

CLIMOD2 (NRCC data interface):
http://climodtest.nrcc.cornell.edu

June 7, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on NNYADP Research: Alfalfa-Grass Forage Trials Improving Choices for Farmers and Cows

NNYADP Research: Alfalfa-Grass Forage Trials Improving Choices for Farmers and Cows

Alfalfa-grass mixture trial

This alfalfa-grass research trial planted in Lewis County, N.Y., is a mix of 25 percent meadow fescue and 75 percent alfalfa. Photo: Debbie J.R. Cherney

Alfalfa is an excellent source of protein in the dairy cow diet. Research funded by the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) is evaluating new opportunities to grow alfalfa in combination with grass species to provide dairy farmers with the opportunity to enhance forage yield, quality, and digestibility. The results of the most recent alfalfa-grass mix trials conducted by Cornell University researchers are posted on the NNYADP website at www.nnyagdev.org.

The field trials, which continue in 2019, rank the alfalfa-grass varieties and mixes for factors that influence milk production. Those factors include fiber digestibility, crude protein, and lignin. Lignin is a fiber component of alfalfa that helps the plant grow upright, but at higher levels decreases the digestibility of that alfalfa in a dairy ration.

Early indications show that a combination of reduced-lignin alfalfa planted with the right meadow fescue can result in a large increase in forage digestibility, which in turn encourages proper daily dry matter feed intake by cows to support milk production.

The on-farm trials in Jefferson and Lewis counties are focused on meadow fescue varieties that are winter-hardy and add the opportunity for higher fiber digestibility.

“Our results continue to show that meadow fescue has great potential to significantly improve forage quality when planted with a high quality alfalfa. These regionalized trials are especially important for analyzing the localized conditions that impact grass yield and quality,” said project leader Debbie J.R. Cherney, a Cornell University professor of Animal Science.

Cherney says climate naturally plays a key role in how each type of crop in the mix matures.

“Alfalfa growth in primarily controlled by heat units or growing degree days, while grass development in the spring is driven by day length. Depending on the conditions in any given year, one crop in the mix may mature at a normal rate, while the other can be significantly delayed,” Cherney explained.

The varieties under evaluation in the Northern New York trials include those grown from meadow fescue seed developed in European environments that are cooler and with a shorter growing season than in Northern New York.

The research data indicates that while grass percentage in the mix can impact yield and the crude protein content of the grass, it does not significantly impact other forage quality measurements for the alfalfa or grass in the mix.

The next objective for the alfalfa-grass research team is to evaluate opportunities to achieve a consistent 20-30 percent, high quality grass mixture from year-to-year under variable growing conditions. The research plan in 2019 includes assessing the impact of different seeding rates for meadow fescue planted with reduced-lignin alfalfa and testing a large group of meadow fescue varieties, many of which have not yet been grown in North America.

Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Legislature and administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

June 7, 2019
by Cornell Field Crops
Comments Off on Weather Outlook – June 6, 2019

Weather Outlook – June 6, 2019

Northeast Regional Climate Center

After today, a long awaited dry period is in store through at least late Monday.   Temperatures across the region will be near or slightly above normal  for the entire week.  Highs will be in the mid 70s  to mid 80s and lows will be in the low to mid 50s.  The next storm system will affect the region on late Monday and Tuesday.  Tuesday looks like the wettest day of the week, with many places seeing 1-2 inches of rain.  Overnight temperatures Monday and Tuesday will be on the warm side (up 50- up 60) with cloudy overnight conditions.  With the sunny/warm conditions over the next 3-4 days, evapotranspiration should be very high since we are nearing the summer solstice.   Expect near 0.25 each day.  The 8-14 day forecast calls for yet another trough to establish over the Northeast.  This should yet again delay the start of summer with cool/wet conditions forecast over the state.

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