GREAT NEWS! The NY Farm Bureau has included us on their e-advocacy site—making it very easy for you and others to voice your support for restoring Agricultural IPM funding to previous levels.
Farmers have relied upon Integrated Pest Management (IPM), for decades. IPM allows farmers to target pests and diseases in an efficient, profitable, and environmentally sensitive manner by utilizing the best and latest innovations in research and extension. The IPM program received a 50% funding cut in 2010, and is now seeking a return to prior year’s budgets. Please take a moment to support this important program in the 2015-16 State Budget.
The invasive swede midge has been slowly but relentlessly making its way into the Northeast. This tiny pest is a baddie, sometimes causing complete loss of entire plantings of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and their cabbage-family kin.
Blind head, swollen leaf bases, brown scarring — all point to swede midge’s destructiveness in red cabbage.
New York is the top producer for fresh cabbage nationwide — and second in processing cabbage. The market value of cabbage alone in New York is $62 million per year. But other northeastern growers are worried too, as are gardeners who are in the know.
Finding sustainable, IPM pest management strategies before swede midge claims yet more ground is critical. But alternatives to chemical pesticides have yet to be developed. Today, the management recommendation — aside from long (and widely-spaced) crop rotations — is to apply systemic neonicotinoids at planting and weekly thereafter.
At the University of Vermont, Yolanda Chen wants to find plant- and systems-based alternatives. To that end, she and fellow researchers seek grower input via a survey to learn
how much knowledge growers have on current effective pest management practices
determine their willingness to try alternative pest management practices.
This broccoli’s growing tip — infested by swede midge larvae.
Chen anticipates the survey will take 5 – 8 minutes to complete, and every growers’ help will be greatly appreciated.
Are you in charge of maintaining athletic fields? If you’re looking for a two or three week head start on getting your fields ready for spring — consider a proven IPM practice: dormant overseeding. (Farmers, this can work for cool-season grains and forage crops. And homeowners — here’s a trick from the pros that you just might be able to use.)
Yes, right now those artic blasts might still be leaving us chilled. But winter weather has its advantages: snowmelt and freeze-thaw cycles help both push and pull seeds into the ground, maximizing seed-to-soil contact.
Frost heaving is more extreme on bare soil. Note that the effect of frost heaving is reduced on the area covered by grass. Photo Credit: Michal Maňas
Meanwhile, spring is just around the corner — meaning it’s time to be on the lookout for weather conditions that allow you to apply grass seed. So secure your seed and calibrate your spreaders.
What conditions are you looking for? Choose a time when:
there’s no snow cover
nighttime temperatures are predicted to dip below freezing and …
days begin to warm.
Ideally the forecast will also call for snow — snow that will push the seed into the ground while also protecting the seed from marauding birds. When that snow melts and is absorbed into the soil, it also helps pull your seed down through the crowns of existing plants, further increasing seed-to-soil contact.
Freeze-thaw cycles can affect soil dramatically, opening crevices and ridges that seed can slip into and will later collapse, maximizing seed-to-soil contact. Photo Credit: Joellen Lampman
Choose which seed to apply by your expectations for each field. Will your athletes be on the field in early spring? Then apply the quickly germinating perennial rye at a rate of 6 lbs./1000 ft2. If you have fields that won’t be used until June or July, apply Kentucky bluegrass at a rate of 3 to 4 lbs./1000 ft2. There will be some loss due to seed mortality, so these rates are 50% above conventional rates.
Your IPM benefits? Dormant seeding allows you to avoid cultivating the turf when the soil is too soft and wet to work. It saves fuel and equipment costs, too. And getting this turf management practice out of the way early means you’re better set up for the busy field season. Best of all, the seeds you apply in winter can germinate two to three week earlier than those applied during a conventional spring seeding — and your grass will be better able to face the onslaught of spring weeds and athletic cleats.
Enjoying our ThinkIPM blog? Truck on over to our School ABCs blog — you’ll find plenty of good stuff there, too. Sure, it’s aimed mainly at school staff — but who doesn’t care about our schools? Seek no further:
Touchdown! But who wants goose poo on their cleats? Sign up to learn more.
Although beautiful in flight and valued as a symbol of the wild, Canada Geese frequenting school grounds, including athletic fields, are a growing concern. Come and learn about goose biology and behavior, the legal framework for dealing with goose problems, alleviation techniques available to schools, and the long-term management of geese and goose problems.
A second workshop helps school personnel learn to deal with goose problems on school grounds and athletic fields on February 20 (Rochester) or March 13 (Norwich).
Aren’t bed bugs supposed to be button-shaped? This one is because it’s well fed, but as it digests its meal it’ll become buttonlike again. Courtesy Gary Alpert.
Don’t panic, and don’t assume the insect’s source, but discreetly remove the student from the classroom. If you’re not the person responsible for pest management, contact them immediately. Someone must attempt to collect the insect for proper ID! Examine the student’s belongings, in keeping with your district’s personal property policy. If the insect is a bed bug, contact the student’s parents by phone, explaining the facts without targeting fault. Offer to send educational bed bug information home with the student at the end of the day. There should be no reason to send the student home early. If your district is completely unprepared for this type of event, it’s time to determine a policy.
A New York law essentially banning pesticide use on the grounds of schools and day care centers has been full effect since 2011. … Besides the playgrounds, turf, athletic or playing fields clearly stated in the law, playground equipment and fence lines around athletic fields and tennis courts are included.
The following areas are left to local discretion, but with the understanding that the intent of the law is to reduce children’s exposure to pesticides:
Areas around buildings
Ornamental plants such as trees, shrubs, and flowers
The person responsible for pest management decisions in your school or child care facility should be able to identify bed bugs, as well as understand their life cycle, habitat needs and how to prevent or remove them. But all of us should do ourselves a favor and learn about this pest. With ever-increasing incidences of bed bug infestations, knowledge is your number one key to prevention.
Children are not little adults – they are still growing and developing. We need to take special precautions to keep them safe
…a great reminder from the EPA’s newly updated Healthy Schools website. They hope to provide a more user-friendly site and have added a “School Bulletin Board” where you’ll find all the news regarding healthy school environments.
If you flash back to last week’s TAg post, you’ll see our side of the story — how TAg teams provide hands-on help to growers for a host of pest (and profit) issues. But what do growers say? Here’s a small sample of the pleased comments we’ve received over the years:
How TAg has made you a better manager of your crops?
Brings to the forefront upcoming pest problems.
Made you go out and look for problems in the field before they became big problems and too late to do nay help.
Better disease and insect control.
It made me more aware of how important crop health relates to forage quality.
TAg was in its late teens when we added a new and booming crop in NY: soybeans. But the principles (and the testimonial)) stayed pretty much the same. Photo courtesy NYS IIPM.
How TAg has made your farming operation more profitable?
Less pesticides, better yields.
Savings in spray and higher quality crops.
More feed value/acre with lower investment.
Given more options for pest control.
Increased my awareness of crop damage and how to control it.
What did you like most about TAg?
Small size of groups, opportunity to talk about various issues throughout the growing season.
I can get better quality crops by acting quickly to avoid loss.
Helped me better understand soils and the importance of rotating crops.
Showed me how much I don’t know and how important it is to keep up with information.
Looking at other farmers and different situations of planting and pest management opens your eyes to other ways of doing things.
The hands on experience means a lot.
Helped me better understand soils and the importance of rotating crops.
IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again
The NYS IPM Program turns 30 this year — a great time for a look down memory lane. We were five years old, for instance, when we began our TAg — Tactical Agriculture — teams for field crop producers. Then (and now!), TAg teams across the state met at key times during the cropping season: not in a classroom, not in an office, but in the fields their members farmed. After all, there’s nothing like hands-on experience with real-world problems and successes to learn tested tactics for making the right diagnoses and determine the best way to deal with pest or crop problems under a range of conditions.
Small groups. Hands-on. Learning from each other — on the farm. That’s TAg.
Back in 1990, we figured each team would comprise three growers, a couple of agribusiness professionals, and a local Extension educator. Only three growers; really; five participants total if you don’t include the instructors? Yes. We knew that for these adult learners, the small group setting provided the greatest opportunity for in-depth understanding and active, individual participation. Meanwhile, each of those farmers could have scores or hundreds of acres in alfalfa or corn (and now, soybeans). Every decision they made built their competency in both economic and environmental security while contributing to their region’s agricultural well being.
But that first year out of that gate, teams averaged nearly 10 members. Oh — and then there were the “TAg-alongs”: neighboring growers who knew a good thing when they saw it. By now we’ve worked with well over 1,100 growers — growers who make IPM decisions on well over a quarter of a million acres.
Before there was email, there was paper. Want to save your hay crop? Often the answer is “harvest now.” But back then, you just might’ve had to wait a few days for that answer to show up in your mailbox. And those few days might have given alfalfa weevil a strong advantage.
Yes, running a TAg team is intensive. Yes, it takes time to do it right. Yes — farmers ask tough questions! And back then we couldn’t shoot members an email if, say, a storm threatened to run amok and we needed to reschedule. We did it all via phone and postcards. Meanwhile, by season’s end, team members were doing things like lending each other equipment or sharing their experience and knowledge outside of class — proving that knowledge is power, that small is beautiful; that — well, that while TAg is old, it’s also new: it’s an endlessly renewable resource. That TAg works. Hats off to TAg on its 25th anniversary.
Consider western corn rootworm. Now it’s old hat, but when we began TAg it was still the new pest on the block.
Is it mole? A vole? These small mammals are often confused with each other, probably because they’re both associated with tunnels. But they’re really quite different and, depending on the circumstance, could be a pest — or not. Since the first step in IPM is to identify your problem, let’s shed light on these two critters.
We cheated here to give you a good look at a couple of voles. Microtus agrestis is related to the two vole species found in NY, but is found in Europe. Photo Credit: Tomi Tapio K
Since voles are seen above-ground much more often than the elusive mole, let’s take a look at them first. You might see them darting through lawns during the day (or your cat might bring them home). They’re active day and night year-round where the ground cover is thick. These small rodents are herbivores, eating almost exclusively plants.
At a quick glance you might confuse them with mice, but their stocky bodies are more compact and they look like they are missing half their tail. Also, unlike mice, they are adapted for digging; different species have different tunneling behavior, which can help with identification.
Voles often have several litters per year. Their populations can fluctuate a good deal — meaning that sometimes they’re quite abundant while other times it would take a naturalist’s sharp eye to know they’re even around.
That lovely tracery exposed as the snow melts — vole tunnels! Photo credit: Woodsen.
Meadow Voles(Microtus pennsylvanicus) are the most abundant vole species found throughout New York and are common in grassy areas including lawns. They are dark brown with a grayish belly and can be 5 inches long.
How do you know if you have meadow voles? Besides actually seeing them (or receiving one in a display of cat love), signs include:
runways through the turf, most visible after snow melt
girdled woody plants
chewed-off herbaceous vegetation
ground burrow openings
After the snow melts, vole damage becomes obvious. Photo Credit: USDA Forest Service – North Central Research Station Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Pine Voles(Microtus pinetorum) probably live throughout New York except for parts of the North Country, although actual distribution is uncertain. Their preferred habitat is forests with thick ground cover; they like orchards too. They are auburn colored and can be four inches long.
Pine voles are harder to detect as they don’t use surface runways. Their extensive underground tunnel systems lead them to their favorite food source, the roots of woody plants.
Once you’ve seen a mole, you’ll have a hard time confusing it with any other animal. Their broad feet, adapted strictly for digging, give them away. Everything about this animal is a clue that it lives underground. Moles have no external ears that can get caught as they move through their tunnels. Their dark, shiny fur has no grain, allowing them to move forwards and backwards with equal ease. And their eyes? You’d practically have to catch a mole to get close enough to see them — they’re that small.
Moles damage is pretty distinct. It involves quite a bit of soil and no entry holes. Photo credit: Kim F
What are they looking for — feeling for — down there? As insectivores, they’re searching mostly for earthworms. But they’re also happy to eat insect larvae, including grubs, and other underground invertebrates. They don’t eat vegetation, although they will line their nests with grass.
Largely solitary, moles are active year-round, day and night. They create grass-lined nests in burrows 1 ½ to 2 feet below the surface often under something solid such as tree roots, sidewalks, and buildings. Litters of 4 or 5 pups are born in the spring. Maturing quickly, the young are independent at about one month old.
What are indications that you have moles? You will find low ridges or mounds of dirt with no entry holes.
An eastern mole’s rare glimpse of daylight. Photo credit: Kenneth Catania
It is up for debate whether Eastern Moles (Scalopus aquaticus) are found in New York, although it’s possible they’re in the lower Hudson River Valley, the metro New York area, and Long Island. We do know they prefer moist sandy loam soils. They can be up to 6 ½ inches long with a naked tail.
Hairy-tailed Moles(Parascalops breweri) are found statewide. They can be up to 5 ½ inches long and have a short, hairy tail.
The star-nosed mole is very aptly named. Those appendages contain over 25,000 sensory receptors designed to help it feel its way around. Photo credit: US NPS
Star-nosed Moles(Condylura cristata) are found throughout much of New York, often occurring in low, wet ground especially near water. They can be up to 5 inches long, and their most striking characteristic is the fingerlike, fleshy projections surrounding their noses. More than their noses separate them from other mole species. They are more sociable than other moles. They tend to have larger litters. And Star-nosed moles swim! Who knew that those large feet are also good for paddling?
All mole and vole species in New York are legally classified as “unprotected”. For more information on both these mammals, including IPM strategies should voles chew the bark off your ornamental shrubs or moles turn parts of your lawn upside down, visit Cornell’s Wildlife Damage Management Program website.
Adapted from Moles and Voles of New York State by Lynn Braband, NYS Community IPM Program at Cornell University
January — that’s when the long process of combing through this year’s crop of NYS IPM research reports begins. We’re looking for great stories to feature in our annual report. As usual, we’ve got lots of contenders. And would that we had room for them all.
Beneficials are a big deal now in IPM. This hover fly pollinates crops — but it’s the larvae that do the dirty work. Photo provided.
Our theme this year? Well, it is our 30th anniversary. So we’re taking a “then and now” approach that highlights the changes we’ve seen in IPM practices — and predicaments — over time. The “IPM practices” part? Let’s call them best practices. They’re generally the result of years of focused diligence; of continually fine-tuning tactics, incorporating technology breakthroughs, and building partnerships around the state, the Northeast, and the nation.
As for those “IPM predicaments” — well, just think “bed bug.” Who knew, 30 years ago, that bed bugs were waiting in the wings for their place in the spotlight? Consider them a symbol of sorts — a critter that stands for the ever-increasing numbers of invasive species now infiltrating our homes, our gardens, our farms and forests.
If anything proves the value of IPM not just to farmers, not just to practitioners, but to all of us, it’s our response to a sweeping range of pest problems new and old. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, for closer look at our recent IPM research, check out our previous annual reports.
Hover fly larvae do the dirty work on aphids and more. Photo provided.
Bed bugs! This young, button-shaped nymph clearly needs a meal. Photo credit: Gary Alpert.
Aren’t bed bugs supposed to be button-shaped? This one is because it’s well fed, but as it digests its meal it’ll become buttonlike again. Courtesy
Kicking off February, two Lake Ontario Winter Fruit Schools back to back:
February 2, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Niagara County CCE Training Center, 4487 Lake Ave., Lockport, NY 14094
February 3, 2015
8:00 am 4:00 pm
Wayne County, Quality Inn, 125 North Main St., Newark, NY 14513
You’ll learn about recent research results, new pest issues, disease control, new technologies, and fruit-supply topics that will help you compete in the ever-changing marketplace — and produce high quality fruit. Workshop leaders include guest speakers from the Cornell faculty and the Lake Ontario Fruit Program team. Also included: a concurrent session for Spanish speaking employees at the same locations. Lunch is included in the cost of registration.
Pests are ever-present in our orchards and vineyards. Go Back to School for helpful info.
Here’s the complete schedule for both events. Find registration info here: monroe.cce.cornell.edu/events. (The Wayne County info really is there, but on some browser windows it’s hidden under the photo on the left.)
More fruit schools the following week in Northern NY and the Hudson Valley:
February 9, 2015, The Northeast NY Commercial Tree Fruit School, The Fort William Henry Hotel & Conference Center, Lake George, NY. More info, registration:
February 10 – 12, 2015, The Lower Hudson Valley Commercial Fruit Growers’ School, Garden Plaza Hotel, Kingston, NY. More info, registration.
Are you a vegetable grower?
Stay tuned for several vegetable schools later in February.
In the pest-friendly environment of a greenhouse, you need all the friends you can get. So more and more growers are turning to biocontrol — to using beneficial insects, mites, and fungi to control pests.
Why? Most growers want to use the fewest pesticides possible. And say you’re a pest. Becoming resistant to a critter that’s built to eat you for dinner is a lot harder than becoming resistant to a pesticide. But pesticide resistance is a growing problem.
Now your smart phone or tablet puts everything you need to know about scouting and biocontrol in the palm of your hand. Literally.
Yet biocontrol is an information-dense process. You’ve got to integrate a wealth of details if it’s going to work.
Smartphone apps can help do the data-crunching for you. Which is why NYS IPM, a Cornell University program, built Greenhouse Scout, a smartphone app that brings together:
pest and beneficial ID and biology
biocontrol application technology
visual records of greenhouse pest populations throughout the growing season
No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.
Not only that, but Greenhouse Scout lets you tweak the system to your own production requirements. And it helps even if you don’t use biocontrol yet — the interactive scouting function lets you identify locations with QR codes, then enter and graph pest numbers according to which greenhouse bench you’re scouting. No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.
Find NYS IPM’s Greenhouse Scout at Android and iPhone app stores.
Look for this logo when you go shopping for your app.