Geneva, NY. January 21, 2016: Dale-Ila Riggs, president of the New York State Berry Growers Association, knew well the danger when SWD (aka spotted wing drosophila) blew into New York in 2012. This tiny new pest ravished millions of dollars worth of raspberries and blueberries. Now, for her leadership and resolve on behalf of an industry worth $15 million and growing, Riggs has received an Excellence in IPM award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) at Cornell University.
As a former Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) educator and professional IPM scout who monitored dozens of vegetable and berry farms for pests as well as the beneficial insects that help keep pests in line — not to mention her experience on the 240-acre berry and vegetable farm she and her husband run — Riggs has decades of practical knowledge under her belt. But with a formidable pest as destructive as SWD, dealing with it takes relentless advocacy and careful research.
So bad was the devastation SWD wreaked that many growers dug out entire plantings of late-bearing berry crops. But Riggs dug in. “Dale-Ila spent countless hours speaking to policy makers, grower groups, and invasive species partner groups,” says Laura McDermott, a vegetable specialist with CCE. “She has pushed the problem to the forefront and over the past three years gained $1.3 million in funding for research across the state.”
Other Excellence in IPM winners for 2015-16:
- Cornell weed scientist Toni DiTommaso.
- Nassau County assistant district attorney Renè Fiechter.
- Farmer, advisor, inventor, pioneer and frequent IPM research collaborator Lou Lego .
- Long Island-based Cornell Cooperative Extension vegetable specialist Sandra Menasha.
- Cornell entomology professor John Sanderson.
- Member of Cornell’s Government Affairs office Lee Telega.
- Apple grower Peter Ten Eyck