New York State IPM Program

May 20, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on World BEE Day 2020

World BEE Day 2020

Protecting bees and other pollinators has become an important social issue. But beekeeping, and the 20,000 species of bees worldwide, have been providing livelihoods, much of our food supply, and important biodiversity for thousands of years.  Today, we help celebrate the first official World Bee Day as proclaimed by the U.N. through their food and agriculture organization.

poster of world bee day

We’ve collected some of our blog posts supporting pollinator protection (see below). First, here’s some facts from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization:

HONEY: Honey is a nutritious, healthy and natural food produced by the bees. Its benefits go beyond its use as a sweetener as it contains several minerals, enzymes, vitamins and proteins that confer unique nutritious and organoleptic properties. Honey can be monofloral if one specific plant nectar and pollen content prevails in pre-defined percentages or polyfloral if it contains an unspecified mix of different nectars and pollens. Due to environmental, geographical and climatic conditions honey may vary in pollen content and relative humidity. Honey is produced in all five continents and its consumption varies from country to country also due to cultural reasons and eating habits.

HIVE PRODUCTS: Honey bees may provide livelihood or a source of income for many beekeepers all over the world. This could happen through the services provided by the bees (mainly pollination service, apitherapy and apitourism), or directly through the bee products. The last include: alive bees to guarantee always new queen bees or bee packs, honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly and venom. Bee products may be used as food for humans, feed for animals, cosmetics, medicines used in conventional medicine (mainly vaccination), or in apitherapy, or other like manifold products, carpentry, attractant, sweeteners, etc.

benefits of pollinators poster

POLLINATORS: Disappearing pollinators can mean losing some of the nutritious food we need for a healthy diet. The decline of pollinators could have disastrous effects for our future of food. Their absence would jeopardize the three-quarters of the world’s crops that depend at least in part on pollination, including apples, avocadoes, pears and pumpkins. And enhancing pollination isn’t just about mitigating disaster – with improved management, pollination has the potential to increase agricultural yields and quality. Pollinators also play a crucial role in maintaining and enhancing biodiversity thus improving the resilience of plants to climate change and other environmental threats.

photo of bee

THE NYS IPM Program is proud to consider POLLINATOR PROTECTION part of our focus. Visit these topics on this blog, the Think IPM Blog:

Pollinater Protection Resources

A virtual visit to an educational Pollinator Garden

Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Jen Lerner and her focus on pollinator protection

Right Plant, Right Place – for Pollinators

Planning for Pollinators

Pollinator Week, 2017

photo of bee on flower

AND MORE posts specific to Pollinator Protection from BIOCONTROL BYTES:

Habitat for beneficial insects (including pollinators) at home

Details of what plants were chosen for our beneficial insect research plots

Just how much time goes into establishing beneficial insect habitat?

 

 

 

 

May 8, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Dwindling bee numbers is a problem. The question is not should we protect pollinators and create habitat, but how? What’s the best method? The most economical? The best bee habitats—made up of plants of varying sizes and bloom times—are easy on the eye. They’re also excellent real estate for other helpers, like spiders and certain beetles, that eat pests. So can pollinator habitats provide biocontrol benefits too?

To answer these questions, our team set up pollinator habitat plots around our Christmas tree research planting—testing establishment methods, evaluating weeds, counting and identifying the insects attracted, and studying the biocontrol value to the trees.

photo of echinacea flowers in a field

ABOVE: Flowers providing pollen or nectar are important to both pollinators and many pest-eating “beneficial” insects. You can help them by choosing a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall with flowers of diverse shapes. This Echinacea makes pollen and nectar readily accessible to both small and large bees, proving that it’s not just their beauty that’s worthy of our admiration.

Wildflower and grass species favored by pollinators were chosen from lists of native perennials. Some started from seed; others were transplants. By the end of the first season, natural enemies and pollinators had arrived—including lady beetles, lacewings, predatory stink bugs, spiders, hoverflies, predatory beetles, butterflies, and many wild bees. This year the plots have matured even more. We collected flying insects with sweep nets, counted butterflies, and caught wasps and bees in brightly colored bowls of soapy water. We even had a method for catching insects moving along the ground.

So far, we have lots of tips for helping growers and gardeners create their own beneficial insect habitat. As to fewer pests in Christmas trees? Time will tell.

What’s New with NEWA?

Are summer conditions becoming more unpredictable? Are you wondering how to make informed and timely decisions about pest management? If you say yes to both, you’re not alone. NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications, is here to help by providing live, on-farm decision support for fruit, vegetable, and field crops production. NEWA pairs real-time weather data from growers’ fields with online crop-specific pest forecasting. And it’s growing every year.

Developed by scientists with pest biology expertise, NEWA models predict disease progression, insect infestations, and crop phenology. Apple growers rely on apple scab forecasts in the spring, grape growers monitor grape berry moth risk through the summer, and field corn growers track western bean cutworm flights throughout the season to know when to scout.

Our latest survey proves NEWA’s unparalleled decision support to growers is working. Users attest they saved over $4,000 in spray costs and more than $33,000 in prevented crop losses annually.

NEWA partners with extension, industry, and academic partners statewide, including the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program that supports western New York’s Concord grape growers. Thanks to the close collaboration between NYSIPM, growers, and processors, that region benefited from the addition of 11 weather stations last year, a move that nearly doubled their decision-making power. NEWA also joined forces with the NYS Mesonet at the University at Albany, a collaboration that resulted in ten pilot locations across the state.

Today NEWA offers 42 models using data from 677 weather stations in 14 states. NEWA and NYSIPM support agriculture throughout New York and beyond. The latest forecast? The future looks bright.

photo of an Onset weather station

An Onset Weather Station

April 17, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #1 Director’s Report, and a Look at 30 Years of Grape IPM

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #1 Director’s Report, and a Look at 30 Years of Grape IPM

photo is of a research field in Geneva NY

(Above) Two splendid September days saw many visitors to our Open House and Twilight Field Day. Master Gardeners, growers, and researchers chatted with NYSIPM staff about our Christmas tree research and wildflower plots. Can establishing pollinator and natural enemy habitat also reduce pest problems? We’re finding out. Project Leaders: Amara Dunn, Elizabeth Lamb, Brian Eshenaur.

This new blog series will highlight the stories we were proud to share in our latest annual report! Download the entire report brochure here.

photo of NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

NYSIPM Director Jennifer Grant

Director’s Message

With new arrivals like the Asian longhorned tick, New York’s pest problems are everchanging; so is pest management. Crop production, tillage, pruning and harvesting practices all look different than a generation ago. Old, broad-spectrum chemical pesticides are giving way to biologically-based and species-specific products. But IPM principles are just as relevant today as they were when the concept of IPM was developed over a half century ago.  For example …

Prevention: Together with our state agency partners, we’re holding off the introduction of spotted lanternfly into New York, while preparing growers for its eventual arrival.

Monitoring: Our network for environment and weather applications (NEWA) is more in demand than ever, incorporating weather data into pest prediction models.

Risk Reduction: Two decades of researching and teaching low chemical use practices on state park golf courses, and measuring environmental impact, have made us national leaders in risk reduction in golf.

Decision-making and record keeping: Our apps for sweet corn, hops, and conifers will soon join those we created for greenhouse biocontrol, western bean cutworm, and field crops scouting.

Non-chemical control: We’re testing and teaching cultivation and cover cropping for weed management, and raising awareness of biological control approaches.

Protecting non-target organisms: IPM goals of protecting humans, wildlife, pets, and beneficial organisms—including pollinators—are alive and well.

IPM is perpetually new and fresh, and ready to address today’s challenges on farms and in communities. Please read on and learn what the New York State IPM Program (NYSIPM) has been up to lately.

Three Decades of Successful Grape IPM

Thirty years ago, New York State grape growers faced an out-of-control pest, the grape berry moth (GBM)—despite four or five insecticide sprays a year. After developing a new IPM protocol for assessing GBM risk and managing the pest, researchers needed someone to show growers how to use it in their vineyards. That’s when, funded by the state, NYSIPM hired its first grape IPM specialist. Once on board, Tim Weigle demonstrated research-based techniques for GBM management to growers in the Lake Erie Region. The program was a wild success. Weigle got growers’ sprays down to one or none by applying Cornell IPM know-how. And the crop? Virtually moth-free.

Photo shows Tim Weigle standing in a vineyard

Tim Weigle

Over the decades, Weigle went on to develop, test, and teach solutions for a myriad of insect, disease, and weed problems in vineyards—not just in NYS, but across the Great Lakes region. He reached over 1,500 growers, processors, and fruit workers annually. How? Via educational meetings, workshops, webinars, podcasts, videos, and newsletters. Likewise, Weigle helped colleagues develop IPM guidelines, field guides, record-keeping software, and most recently collaborated on digital vineyard management tools.

In 1992, Weigle helped develop NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications. Today, weather stations live-stream data to inform IPM forecasts that address the five main threats to vineyard health. NEWA’s online network gives up-to-the-minute decision support so growers know when their crops are at risk—or not—thereby reducing extra sprays. Weigle ushered in e-NEWA, directly delivering NEWA results to growers by email, and in 2019 he doubled Lake Erie weather stations to 44, bringing IPM forecasts to even more grape growers.

Most recently, as the threat of the spotted lanternfly (SLF) looms across New York, Weigle brought his entomology and education skills to the forefront again, leading NYSIPM’s SLF awareness and outreach campaign. And his perceptive people-skills remind us that it’s not just vineyard managers who need to be vigilant, but every traveler passing through the SLF-infested areas to our south. Weigle has just retired, leaving large shoes to fill in grape IPM.

Grape and Hops IPM Extension Educator Tim Weigle, like some of the pests he helped growers successfully manage, is now a rare sight out in the field. His 2019 retirement from NYSIPM means more than an empty desk at the Lake Erie Research and Extension Lab, his base since its opening ten years ago. For 30 years, Tim partnered with researchers, growers, and industry to protect New York’s land and water. We hope Tim is now enjoying the fruits of his labor, literally!

 

For more on any aspect of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, please visit our website!

 

April 10, 2020
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on It’s Bat Appreciation Week

It’s Bat Appreciation Week

The sun was set; the night came on apace, And falling dews bewet around the place; The bat takes airy rounds on leathern wings, And the hoarse owl his woeful dirges sings. – John Gay

Little brown bats capture beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: J. N. Stuart flickr

Big brown bats feed on beetles and other hard-bodies insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bats are one of those creatures that instill fear in people. (Thanks, Hollywood.) But as all our New York bats eat insects, at a rate of around 700 insects per hour, they can play an important biocontrol role in our IPM programs.

The federally endangered Indiana bat eats beetles, flies, moths, and other insects. Photo: US Fish and Wildlife Service flickr

There are two types of bats in the Northeast. Some species are communal and typically overwinter in caves, mines, and sometimes, to our consternation, our buildings. They include the little brown bat, big brown bat, eastern long-eared bat, eastern pipistrelle, small-footed myotis, and the federally endangered Indiana bat.

(If you find bats lodging in your attic, it is best to call in the professionals. They’ll work with you at the right times of the year to close up crevices and holes that let bats in. Closing up entry holes in the summer could trap baby bats inside. For more information, visit What’s Bugging You – How to deal with bats.)

The hoary bat is our largest bat, migrates to Mexico for the winter, and feeds on beetles, true bugs, moths, flies, wasps, and other insects. Photo: Tom Benson flickr

Bats in the second group live largely solitary lives, roost primarily in tree canopies and cavities, and migrate south for the winter. These include the red bat, hoary bat, and silver-haired bat.

According to the Cornell publication, Bats in the Forest and Beyond, “in a study of a colony of 150 brown bats in an agricultural area, researchers estimated that the colony consumed over 1.25 million insects in a year. This is not surprising, considering that a single bat may eat 3,000 insects on a given summer night. Bats roosting and foraging in New York forests consume forest and eastern tent moths, and a variety of other potential forest pests”.

Whitenose syndrome on little brown bat. Photo: New York US Fish and Wildlife Service

The legal status of bats varies from state to state. In New York, two species, the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat, are protected. However, the conservation of all bats is encouraged. This is particularly important since the populations of some bat species, especially the little brown bat, have been decimated by an introduced fungal disease, white-nose syndrome.

So what can we do to help? According to the Cornell Wildlife Health Center, “to minimize spread of the fungus [that causes white-nose syndrome], people should not handle bats, avoid entering caves and mines with bat colonies, and should decontaminate all equipment and clothing between caves and bat roosts”.

Leave or plant trees with deep furrowed bark such as shagbark hickory that provide roosing spots for bats. Allowing dead trees with peeling bark can also provide habitat. If you must take down these trees, avoid cutting from May to early August when bats are raising thier young. We can also install bat boxes, which mimic areas bats would naturally roost.

 

Looking for something to do with the kids? Alyson Brokaw, a student involved with The Cornell University Naturalist Outreach Program, talks to students about her love of bats and developed a companion education guide.

photo of the title to a video about bats from the Cornell University Naturalist Outreach program

Alyson talks about why the world’s only true flying mammals are so amazing and why you should learn all about them! Plus, Alyson answers the burning question: “Why do bats hang upside down?”

 

 

 

December 31, 2019
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on NYS IPM’s Best of 2019

NYS IPM’s Best of 2019

“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard

Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:

ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.

Blacklegged tick embedded behind knee

No one wants to find an embedded tick.

We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.

distribution map as of November 2019

Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019

Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.

 

Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:

We would all like the fruits and vegetables we purchase to be free of critters, and the Spotted Wing Drosophila blog post Managing SWD in raspberries & blackberries helps producers do just that.

 

The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.

Readers of the The ABCs of School and Childcare Pest Management blog were itching to read about poison ivy in the blog post, Poison Ivy – Don’t scratch.

One of the benefits of blogs is the ability to provide timely information, such as the Your NEWA Blog’s most popular Spring is coming – tune up your weather stations post.

It’s been a nippy end of the autumn, so we expect the Winter Injury Spring 2019 post in the Tree Integrated Pest Management blog to remain relevant.

Not much grows in the winter in NY, unless you have a greenhouse! The Ornamental Crops IPM Blog’s popular Greenhouse IPM update 2.5.19 cover mold and biocontrol efforts that can occur in February.

So, we hope keeping up with NYS IPM Program will be included amongst your resolutions. We wish you a very happy New Year and look forward to serving you in 2020 and beyond.

June 25, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Pollinator Protection Resources

Pollinator Protection Resources

a large wild pollinater feeds on a raspberry flower

A wild pollinator feeding on a fall raspberry flower. Photo by J. Carroll

 

More and more homeowners and small-gardeners are choosing to reduce or end their use of pesticides. Not just for the health of their family and pets, but to reduce the risk of harming pollinators. Growers and farmers have multiple reasons to reduce pesticide use: reduced cost, reduced health risk to their families and employees, lost revenues in an ever-growing marketplace asking for ‘organic’ produce, and reducing pesticide resistance in pests. Yet high pest pressure in commercial operations, even organic growers, is the reality.

For those responsible for growing our food, chemical effects on pollinators have been a concern for many years. Loss of honeybee populations have been tied to multiple sources which, when put together, have a multiplied effect: colony die off. And we all know that loss of pollinators has a significant effect on food production.

Growers and farmers must examine many integrated pest management options–that’s why we’ve been examining and sharing science-based research for over thirty years!

Recently, Dr. Juliet Carroll provided some great pollinator photos on her SWD (that’s Spotted Wing Drosophila) blog and she suggested we share her list of pollinator resources for fruit growers.

Photo shows a carpenter bee on a blueberry blosson. Blueberry blossoms are white round flowers very much resembling what the mature blueberry will look like.

A carpenter bee zooms in on a blueberry flower, anxious to drink its delicious nectar. Another pollinator is working flowers in the upper right. Photo: J. Carroll

Here’s Julie’s bulleted list of pollinator resources she’s shared  in the Lake Ontario Fruit Program’s Fruit Notes newsletter:

Protect pollinators! Help them out by avoiding use of harsh insecticides through petal fall. Help your crop out by mowing flowering weeds during bloom time so pollinators focus on your crop.

Post information supplied by Dr. Juliet Carroll

Julie Carroll inspecting hops

Fruit IPM Coordinator, IPM House, 607 W. North St., Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456

May 7, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on NEWA Announces Partnership with Onset Corporation

NEWA Announces Partnership with Onset Corporation

Dan Olmstead and The New York State IPM Program at Cornell University are pleased to announce that Onset Corporation has joined the NEWA family and will be partnering to integrate HOBO® weather station data used by growers for use with insect pest and plant disease decision support tools at http://newa.cornell.edu.

The HOBO RX3000

Combining HOBO RX3000 weather stations with NEWA’s decision support tools will give farmers access to microclimate monitoring data and real-time crop management decision support, allowing for faster, well-informed farm management decisions. Growers simply select the NEWA data feed after logging onto the HOBOlink® cloud platform and then contact the NEWA Help Desk to complete the onboarding process to http://newa.cornell.edu.

Learn more about the RX3000 NEWA configuration

 Onset HOBO RX3000 Benefits

  • Free NEWA access in member states.
  • 5% NEWA discount on weather station equipment purchases.
  • NEWA tool and resource compatibility.
  • Reliable weather monitoring with low-cost data plans.
  • Hobolink® alarm notifications via text.
  • Hobolink® 24/7 data access.
  • Wide area farm coverage with HOBOnet add-on mesh network sensors (optional).

Onset is ready to answer your questions about HOBO RX3000 station configurations suitable for use with the NEWA platform. Visit the Onset NEWA partner page to learn more, or contact designated Onset support staff below with your questions regarding equipment and purchases.

Matt Sharp, Strategic Sales Representative

Environmental & Environmental Monitoring

Direct: 508-743-3126

Main: 1-800-LOGGERS (564-4377)

matt_sharp@onsetcomp.com

Farm-scale monitoring

Jamie Pearce, Onset’s VP of Marketing and Corporate Development says, “We’re very excited to be integrating our HOBO RX3000 weather station data with NEWA. Not only does it help our agricultural customer base gain actionable insights, but it also delivers the option to leverage our new wireless sensors with the HOBOnet® Field Monitoring System. Now, apple growers to vineyard managers can get a better sense of what’s happening throughout their fields.”

More About Onset

Based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Onset has been designing and manufacturing its data loggers and monitoring solutions since the company’s founding in 1981. The company’s award-winning HOBO® data logger and weather station products are used around the world in a broad range of monitoring applications, from water and coastal research to indoor and outdoor environmental monitoring. https://www.onsetcomp.com.

For more information follow the NEWA Blog or contact Dan Olmstead

 

 

April 11, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Blogs as Varied as our Program…

Blogs as Varied as our Program…

The THINK IPM Blog tries to cover the breadth of our program but if you know anything about us, it’s that pest management covers much more than cockroaches and dandelions. Here’s the rest of our blogs:

BIOCONTROL BYTES

The goal of this blog is to inform New Yorkers who are trying to control pests – on farms, in backyards, in businesses, or in homes – about the role that biological control plays (or could play) in successful integrated pest management. Additional information and resources can be found here.

The information is posted by Amara Dunn, Biocontrol Specialist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. New content will be posted approximately once a month. Click the “Subscribe” button on the right to make sure you don’t miss anything! Content may include information on the effective use of biocontrol, responses to questions from stakeholders, and updates on new or ongoing biocontrol projects of interest to New Yorkers.

If you have questions about biocontrol, you can contact Amara by email (arc55@cornell.edu), or you can call her office (315-787-2206).


CHRISTMAS TREE IPM

Brian Eshenaur is the lead on this blog and with a new evergreen planting being established at the NYSAES/Cornell Agritech, we expect to see new posts this growing season.

Sr. Extension Associate for Ornamental Crops
Integrated Pest Management Program, 2449 St. Paul Blvd., Rochester, NY 14620
(585) 753-2561

NYSIPM WEEKLY FIELD CROPS PEST REPORT

This is a seasonal scouting report providing information on presence, identification, and management guidelines for significant field crop pests in New York. This report provides timely information to help users learn about, and better anticipate, current and emerging problems and improve their integrated pest management efforts.

The report is written by Ken Wise Extension Educator with Cornell University’s New York State IPM Program for Livestock and Field Crops in collaboration with other Cornell Cooperative Extension personnel, and Jamie Cummings, Livestock and Field Crops Coordinator.


ORNAMENTAL CROPS IPM


SPOTTED WING DROSOPHILA

This blog is managed by Juliet Carroll, Fruit IPM Coordinator, NYS IPM Program, IPM House, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, (315) 787-2430

SWD first reports and first finds contain GDD and day length information.

If you have questions contact her at jec3@cornell.edu. For more information on SWD, consult the websites listed in the right hand column, under More SWD Resources.


ABCs of SCHOOL AND CHILDCARE PEST MANAGEMENT

Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist housed at CCE Albany County, 24 Martin Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186, (518) 441-1303, Email: jkz6@cornell.edu


TREE IPM

The content of this blog is derived from inquiries of Nurseries and Christmas Tree Farms.

The IPM Program staff fielding the questions are Brian Eshenaur bce1@cornell.edu and Elizabeth Lamb eml38@cornell.edu

The IPM Ornamentals program works with university researchers, extension educators, crop consultants and growers to identify pest management issues and find answers. We deliver the IPM solutions to growers through hands-on workshops, demonstrations, and publications.


SWEET CORN PHEROMONE TRAP NETWORK

The purpose of this site is to provide weekly reports from the NY sweet corn pheromone trap network.  The trap network is a collaboration between the NYS IPM Program, local Cornell Cooperative Extension programs, farmers, and crop consultants.  We also provide scouting and threshold information for fresh market sweet corn and links to resources on the major sweet corn insect and disease pests.  The information on these pages is maintained by Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, with help from Craig Cramer, Communications Specialist with the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University.
To contact Marion: mez4@cornell.edu

Marion Zuefle, Vegetable IPM Extension Area Educator

Marion Zuefle

IPM House, 607 W. North St., Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456,  (315) 787-2379,  Email:  mez4@cornell.edu


YOU’RE NEWA

You’re NEWA is managed by Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, NYS IPM Program.

The Network for Environment and Weather Applications (NEWA) delivers weather data from weather stations primarily located on farms through the Internet at newa.cornell.edu and automatically calculates and displays weather data summaries, crop production tools, and integrated pest management (IPM) forecasts. NEWA tools promote precision IPM and crop production practices.

Dan Olmstead

Dan Olmstead, NEWA Coordinator, housed at IPM House, Cornell AgriTech, Geneva, NY 14456, 315-787-2207, Email: dlo6@cornell.edu

March 28, 2019
by Joellen Lampman
Comments Off on Happy National Weed Appreciation Day!

Happy National Weed Appreciation Day!

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly. – Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ahhh, the weed. Despised by many, almost to the point of violence. Once, while waiting for my older child to get out of preschool, I sat in the lawn and blew dandelion heads to the delight of my infant. I’ve never forgotten the sudden manifestation of a red-faced man screaming at me about terrorizing the neighborhood. (I like to think my son was unaffected.)

The first step in IPM is determining if you have a problem. All those years ago, a large, angry man was a problem, but I contend to this day that the dandelions were not. An unknown author penned that weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s. And many through the years have found inspiration from weeds. While researching this post, I had the option of strictly sticking to quotes about weeds (don’t worry, I didn’t), but I will add a few. There are quotes about their survivability:

You can’t help but admire a plant that has adapted to lawn mowers.

  • A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. – Doug Larson
  • A fresh and vigorous weed, always renewed and renewing, it will cut its wondrous way through rubbish and rubble. – William Jay Smith

Quotes about weeding:

  • Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

And many waxed poetic about their hidden value:

  • What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • When life is not coming up roses, Look to the weeds and find the beauty hidden within them. – F. Young

But beyond their value as a philosophical aid, can weeds be beneficial?

In fact, what weeds you find can tell you something about the soil. Is it wet or dry? Lean or fertile? Compacted? Acidic, alkaline, or neutral? Check out the short overview from the University of Vermont, What Weeds Can Tell You. Then act accordingly.

Often, weeds we find troublesome are plants we once valued. Dandelions, garlic mustard, plantain, and burdock are examples of plants brought over and cultivated by settlers to North America for food and medicine. And there are efforts to regain that value. One doesn’t need to spend too much time on the internet to find many resources on edible weeds. Take a look at this short video, Edible Weeds | From the Ground Up, developed by the University of Wyoming Extension (which includes some precautions you should take if you want to try eating your problems away). The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education recently funded a project looking at bringing edible weeds from the farm to the market.

These trichogramma wasp parasitized European corn borer eggs aren’t going to hatch.

There is research looking at the ecosystem services provided by weeds in agricultural settings. In their project, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, Cornell researchers make the argument that while weeds can compete with crops, they can also benefit the entire system. They use milkweed along a field of corn as a case study. There are aphids that feed on the milkweed and produce honeydew, which benefits beneficial insects such as wasps that lay their eggs in the eggs of insect pests such as European corn borer. And that’s before they discuss the benefit to monarch butterflies.

Early flowering weeds, such as this purple deadnettle, provide an early spring food source for pollinators.

And speaking of butterflies… and bees… and other pollinators, in the write-up of a study looking at the capacity of untreated home lawns to provide pollination opportunities, they reclassified weeds as “spontaneous lawn flowers”. So much friendlier! By the way, they found 63 plant species in those lawns. In a parallel study looking at mowing and pollinators, they found that lazy lawn mowing led to more spontaneous lawn flowers leading to more pollinators. So now I have also given you an excuse to mow less. You’re welcome.

So embrace your spontaneous flowers!

If, after today, you still want to manage those plants, you can always find a plethora of resources for different settings within our New York State Integrated Pest Management website.

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