Two major systems brought significant amounts of rain to all of New York State this past weekend. Tropical Storm Fay moved up the Hudson River Valley while a large front from the West hit western and central NY Saturday and Sunday.
7-day rainfall totals for New York State as of 12 July 2020.
Most counties and townships received a minimum half inch of rain across the state, which was timely given the fact that most of NY had transitioned to abnormally dry conditions, or moderate to severe drought in some areas, as of 10 July. Click here for additional drought status information.
More than 3 inches of rain were recorded in Catteraugus, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, Oswego, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester Counties as well as all boroughs of New York City. Smaller areas of Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, and Yates Counties also received similar amounts.
Lumberland and Highland Townships in the southwest corner of Sullivan County may have experienced rainfall in excess of 8 inches.
In the future, visit the ThinkIPM Blog for summaries of severe weather events impacting IPM practices and agricultural production in NY.
We suspect it would take one very long blog post to cover Jennifer Grant’s career at Cornell, so we’ll hit some of the highlights and then focus on some fun. Thanks to some digging by Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, we’ve managed to gather, then try to squeeze, a few of Jen’s accomplishments into today’s post!
After receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Vermont, Jen took a position as the Ornamentals IPM Specialist at the new NYS IPM Program, 1989-1996. Next came her Ph.D in Entomology at Cornell in 2000.
Jen’s devotion to teaching, promoting, adoption of, and improvement of IPM remained constant through her years with the program, culminating in her role as Director from which she retired in May of 2020. While immersed in active research improving IPM, Jen took sole helm of a nationally respected program regrouping after some tough financial years.
Some of her accomplishments include helping to make NEWA (the Network for Environmental and Weather Applications) a reality in and beyond NY state; the creation of the EIQ evaluation method for pesticide use on golf courses (Environmental Impact Quotient), and co-authoring Reducing Chemical Use on Golf Course Turf: Redefining IPM. Later, she coordinated and cowrote the Best Management Practices for New York State Golf Courses, and organized development of the Cornell Commercial Turfgrass Guidelines. Working with an organic farming specialist, Jen developed comprehensive profiles for the class of products called ‘minimum-risk’ or FIFRA 25b.
Jen worked regionally as part of NEERA (Northeast Region Technical Committee on IPM), and her work garnered an Award for Excellence in IPM from the ESA Eastern (Entomology Society of America) in 2011. Jennifer’s obvious passion for encouraging others to find ways to incorporate IPM into their professions and lives has led to the development of strong relationships with individuals and organizations, to the benefit of the NYSIPM program. She worked with the NYS Departments of Agriculture and Markets; Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Environmental Conservation; state legislators; Cooperative Extension; Cornell and other faculty; and industry members to increase the adoption of IPM throughout NYS.
Throughout her years as a supervisor, coordinator, co-director, and as sole IPM director, Jennifer led IPM staff with a consistent strength and grace that inspired both a strong team cohesiveness and the best individual efforts. By expecting the best from her staff and caring for them as friends, Dr. Grant’s example must be considered as key to the program’s success.
More recently, Jen’s work found her included in a team award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach Team Award for Protecting Pollinator Health by the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Numbers, like reductions in pesticide applications, show improvement, but so much of Jen’s passion for IPM changed minds. Her direct, yet congenial, way of providing information and encouragement has to be commended for the increase on IPM awareness statewide and nationally.
And gosh darn, we just really like her!
And now, some fond farewells!
“What a great leader! You have my vote!”
“Thank you, Jennifer for your legacy in IPM! You’re an amazing role model for so many of us. We will miss you so much.”
“Thank you for all you’ve contributed to NYS IPM. I wish you all the best in retirement. That first day you don’t have to check email: priceless!”
“Your impacts will continue to be felt at NYSIPM and around the state (and probably beyond) well into your retirement.”
“You’ve accomplished so much over your career and I can’t thank you enough for all your dedication to the NYS IPM program, for your guidance, support, and positive attitude.”
“I could not have imagined a more supportive, encouraging and thoughtful ‘boss’ until I came on board at NYSIPM.”
“During my time with the IPM Program, you constantly challenged me to think bigger, outside the box, and in ways that will lead to impacts. You coached me on how to navigate the diverse situations experienced as an IPM educator, and provided useful feedback that I carry with me. Your perspective and thoughtful approach continue to serve as a guide while I develop my own program.”
“Jen, the impact you have had on how and why we all approach IPM and pest management is immeasurable. You will be greatly missed.”
“The changes in technology, practices and perspectives have changed greatly in the 30+ years and in no small part because of the work you’ve done, leaving the world better than you found it (and you may be just getting started)!”
” ‘Thank you’s’ are not enough for all that you have done for each of us and for the NYS IPM Program.”
“It’s been fun working on projects with you—I always felt challenged to do my very best!”
“Congrats, Jennifer, on your retirement! I will miss you at future meetings.”
“I’ve learned so much from you both personally and professionally, and I’m lucky to consider you a mentor. I’m sad to see you go, but I’m reminded of your IPM work every day as it continues to ripple through the turf industry.”
“Congratulations on your retirement!”
“I’m grateful to have you as a friend and colleague. I’m sad to see you go but super excited for what lies ahead for you and the whole family.”
“I hope you have a fantastic retirement! Congratulations!”
“Your passion, knowledge, and leadership with IPM and turfgrass is an inspiration that will carry me through the rest of my career.”
“You sure accomplished a ton with your own bear hands! And you did even more as excellent leader and collaborator. It was a pleasure to work on your team!”
“All the best and will miss you as the director!”
“May you, Keith, and the girls continue to have a fulfilling next phase of life.”
Lynn Braband has a favorite story about how he came to be employed by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. It occurred back in 1999 when Lynn’s experience with wildlife management brought him in contact with Director Jim Tette.
Our story is that it was a good day for IPM. Statewide, regionally, nationally, and even internationally, Lynn Braband made things happen through his determination, eagerness to learn and then share, his passion for the environment ,and his reputation as an all-around naturalist and reliable, genial collaborator. We have kudos to share–only a portion of the comments provided before and during Lynn’s VIRTUAL retirement party–but you can’t help but notice our photo header above with some typical Lynn shots. Much like other members of the Community IPM team, on-site scouting for pests was a big part of Lynn’s visits to school districts around the state.
Hang on while we run through SOME of Lynn’s organizational ties, collaborations, presentations and publications:
Starting with Lynn’s Masters in Wildlife Biology, Lynn worked in the wildlife control industry–including his own business–before joining the IPM Program. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Sigma Xi, American Scientific Affiliation, National Pest Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, NYS Wildlife Management Association, and the NYS Wetlands Forum. Add to that, his dedicated service on the National School IPM Steering Committee, the International IPM Symposium Program Committee, the IPM Program Work Team, Rochester Healthy Home Coalition, the Statewide School Environmental Health Steering Committee, and foremost, his co-leadership of the Northeast School IPM Working Group.
As you might know, Lynn created and led NY’s Statewide School IPM Committee (above), but his impact on School IPM became much more than statewide. His retirement announcement prompted praise from collaborators across the nation.
Working with school staff around the state led him to applied research on reducing the risk of yellow jacket stings at schools, and keeping geese off playing fields.
Lynn has spoken on bird management, critters on golf courses, reducing bedbugs in childcare centers, and White Nose Syndrome on bats. I counted more than 150 publications, and over 50 public presentations just since 2012!
Two in-depth school surveys across NY were personally guided by Lynn–it was just a part of his deep commitment and relationship-building with building and property managers at individual schools, and with BOCES health and safety officers.
Trust us, or ask one of his colleagues. The incredible impact Lynn had on expanding IPM knowledge and practices was impressive, and we’ll be doing our best to fill in! As for missing Lynn himself, that’s going to take some getting used to. He might even have a story about that!
Brian Eshenaur, NYSIPM: “It was great to see Lynn’s dedication to get IPM principals utilized in school buildings. Though his leadership, he and colleagues throughout the Northeast have created resources to further school IPM goals in the region.”
“In the many years that I have worked with Lynn I’ve always been impressed with his “steadiness” (unlike me) and his work ethic. Lynn you have accomplished much and are an example of a wonderful public servant. I will miss learning from you.” Marc Lame, Indiana University.
Amara Dunn, NYSIPM: “Not only does Lynn do great IPM, but he is a genuinely kind colleague, and his sense of humor has enlivened many meetings.”
“I wish to take this opportunity to recognize Lynn Braband once more for his splendid support of school IPM efforts within his state and nationally. Lynn, you will be missed greatly; you have influenced, encouraged, educated and supported us all over the years.” Dawn Gouge, University of Arizona.
Jennifer Grant, NYSIPM: “Lynn’s steady commitment and patient persistence have been the underpinnings of his success in getting IPM implemented. That approach, along with his vast knowledge of wildlife biology and regulations, as well as his friendly demeanor, all combine to make it easy and enjoyable to cooperate with Lynn. Throughout his career, Lynn has also shown a strong interest in the ethics of science and pest management. He shares his musings with others, causing us all to think. Thanks for everything Lynn!”
“I want others in the IPM network to understand how instrumental Lynn’s work has been, what a legacy he leaves, and how much he will be missed upon retirement.” Lynn Rose, Pollution Prevention and EHS Consultant, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, NYSIPM: “What a pleasure and an honor to have worked with you for the past two decades, Lynn. I’ve learned a lot from you, most importantly to be more thoughtful and more careful with words. I’ll definitely miss your humor and I will never forget that Albany dinner when Rod Ferrentino sketched out his crimes on the paper tablecloth and had us crying with laughter. I wish you all the best in your retirement from IPM and future adventures.”
Kathy Murray, Maine Dept. of Agriculture: “Lynn has made a lot of good things happen over the past many years.”
Debra Marvin, NYSIPM: “Lynn’s knowledge of wildlife, including his expertise on birds, make him a great IPM facilitator. But his methodical way of approaching problems, and his gentle respect of others, his philosophy and humor make Lynn so admired by his peers, and (lucky for me) a great supervisor and co-worker.”
Joellen Lampman, NYSIPM: “I will miss my dinner time conversations with Lynn, many of which caused fellow diners to wish they had eaten somewhere else that night. But mostly I will miss his stories, his dry sense of humor, and his ability to organize different people with different interests around a common goal statewide, regionally, and even nationally.”
NYSIPM’s Matt Frye chose to honor Lynn in another way:
June 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report – Nematodes, Spotted Lanternfly… a last Look and Recap
Today we reach the end of our in-depth look at our most recent annual report from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. While many of you receive it in the mail, the large number of in-person sharing we generally do as we speak with people around the state was obviously limited. We continue to do our best to reduce risk from pests and treatments, and to reduce the risk of Covid-19.
WE LOOK FORWARD TO A RETURN TO THE MANY WORKSHOPS, PRESENTATIONS, ON-SITE EVALUATIONS and GATHERINGS THAT WE VALUE AS PART OF OUR FOCUS!
Steinernema-spp under magnification.
Nematodes Go to School
For decades, researchers and practitioners alike have played around with beneficial nematodes to control insect pests in turf and agricultural crops. These nematodes are microscopic worms that move through soil looking for host insects to infect. Once inside a grub or other insect, the nematode releases bacteria that feed and reproduce, eventually releasing a toxin that kills the host. As an added bonus, nematodes often persist for years in the soil after just one application—they’ve been shown to permanently establish in both alfalfa and corn. Nematodes are an ideal biological control agent because they occur naturally in soil and can be applied to boost pest control. Now these tiny but mighty native worms have been enlisted to help protect school playing fields from pests, and to help teach science, too. Dr. Kyle Wickings, a Cornell entomologist, has been using native New York beneficial nematodes on school playing fields to target grubs, and to reduce the need for pesticide sprays. NYSIPM staff teamed up with him to train teachers in four school districts to add nematode sampling to their science curriculums. In addition to student-collected data, the team inoculated eight playing fields at three schools and then sampled the fields in the fall for signs that the little worms were sticking around. To date, results have been too variable to make recommendations, but our researchers—as tenacious as these worms—will keep on testing.
(Above) Students learned that these beneficial nematodes (round worms) might be hard to see without a microscope, but are hard at work attacking grubs in the soil under the playing fields. David Chinery, Horticulture and Turf Educator at CCE Rensselaer County, helps this middle school teacher get her hands dirty.
Here, during our Nematodes in the Classroom Workshop, she sifts through soil for dead wax worms that indicate whether nematodes are present and successfully parasitizing insects.
The Spotted Lanternfly: They Get Around
Hailing from Asia, the spotted lanternfly (SLF) arrived in Pennsylvania in 2012 on landscaping stone. They’ve been ravaging vineyards and making a mess of backyards ever since. SLF are clumsy fliers but adept hitchhikers. They lay their eggs on practically any hard surface—wood, rusty metal, railroad cars, and shipping containers are all fair game. SLF has been called, “the worst invasive we’ve seen in 100 years.” Of their arrival here, New Yorkers now say, “It’s not a question of if, but when.” A bright spot is the incident command structure formed by New York’s Departments of Environmental Conservation, Agriculture and Markets, and Parks. They started preparing early, and asked NYSIPM to help with outreach and awareness. Our goal? Immediate identification and education to prevent SLF establishment for as long as possible. Delaying their imminent debut gives us more time to inform the public, while allowing researchers to expand the management toolkit—including the use of natural enemies. We’ve created pest alerts, online courses, identification guides, YouTube videos, slide sets, and webinars. NYSIPM talks about SLF a lot. In the first year our staff mentioned SLF in more than 60 presentations, alerting nearly 2,500 participants representing the grape, wine, apple, hops, ornamentals, vegetable, berry, turf, and landscape industries. The good news? The efforts seem to be working. At the time of printing, a few SLF have been sighted in New York, but no infestations found. We want to give a shout-out to our friends in Pennsylvania who have generously shared information, and to New York’s government agencies and extension educators for getting the word out.
(Above) Dressed to kill. These beautiful yet destructive adult spotted lanternfly adults are out and about in the late summer and fall. Watch for them, but also for egg masses and nymphs the rest of the year.
In closing, our annual report is an important part of our program because it showcases our service to our stakeholders and justifies the trust of our collaborators and funders. Highlighting many, but not all, of our accomplishments takes time. Collecting the stories and photos–after narrowing down the list of ideas–and then writing concise and interesting stories is the work of our director and commodity directors. After the retirement of our lead staff writer, Science Writer Mary Woodsen, we want to thank Mariah C. Mottley for her contribution!
April 7, 2020
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on Help! I found a tick on me! – Spring Edition
It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! ~Mark Twain
Part of what we want is to be outside! And, with COVID-19, more people than ever are heading to the great outdoors. Which, unfortunately, is where the ticks are. And ticks want a blood meal. In the early spring we still have some adult blacklegged tick adults hanging around. But the time has also come again for blacklegged tick nymphs to look for a meal. As well as American dog ticks. And lone star ticks. And the recently discovered Asian longhorned tick.
When taking pictures of ticks for identification purposes, try to have the tick fill as much as the frame as possible and take multiple pictures to increase the chances of one being in focus.
And people want answers to questions such as this one, “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?”
With four major tick species in New York, it’s important to identify which one bit you. Each species, life stage, and, for adults, whether it is a male versus female have different color patterns. The length of the mouthparts vary between ticks. They have festively named festoons which can also help with ID. As ticks are freakishly small, and we are looking at even smaller parts of their body, it is handy to have a magnifying lens, a good smartphone camera and a steady hand, or, better yet, a microscope. Don’t have one? There are options for having someone identify the tick for you. They include:
The Tick App – a citizen science project with a free smartphone app collecting information on how and where people are becoming exposed to ticks
Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center
If you want to give identification a go, the TickEncounter Resource Center has an excellent guide highlighting the scutum, festoons, and life history. Life history? Yes! Life history should only be used as a clue, however. Ticks don’t read the books and every life stage of the blacklegged tick has been found throughout the year.
Identification matters because different tick species can transmit different tick-borne pathogens. Which is information you want to give your health care provider to help them make an informed decision..
First, let’s be clear that we provide mostly information about ticks. Any information about tick-borne pathogens that cause disease is restricted to what pathogens are carried by what tick species and how they are transmitted. It is beyond the scope of our roles as IPM Educators to discuss diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment. (For this information, we refer you to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tickborne Diseases of the United States page.)
Different tick species host different pathogens. Importantly, ticks can transmit more than one pathogen at a time.
The poster to the right shows what disease pathogens can be transmitted by the three ticks of greatest human concern in NY, the blacklegged tick, dog tick, and lone star tick. To date, no Asian longhorned ticks in the U.S. have tested positive for any tick-borne pathogens.
What’s the risk?
A question you will likely be asked when reporting a tick is, “How long was the tick attached?”. In my honest opinion, this is a rather silly question. Ticks are very, very good at not being noticed. They want to stick around for up to a week feeding. To help deter detection, they release antihistamines and painkillers in their saliva. And, perhaps more importantly, none of us want to admit to ourselves that a tick was feeding on our blood for days. It’s a hard psychological pill to swallow. There is also some question in the medical literature about the time required for transmission of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Especially if the tick was removed improperly. And we know Powassan virus can be transmitted in a matter of minutes. But the question will still likely be asked.
The answer? Take another look at that tick and refer to TickEncounter who has helpfully created charts showing the growth of ticks as they feed.
Courtesy of The TickEncounter Resource Center
I have found this chart particularly useful when people swear the tick was on them for only a few hours. Having an estimate of the attached time is helpful information for your physician.
A microscope is definitely handy to help see the distinguishing features on removed ticks.
And now back to the original request: “I just removed a tick from my child. What should I do now?” In this case, we were able to put the tick under a microscope to help with identification. Before reading on, what would you say it is?
This looks like a blacklegged tick nymph which was attached for 1 to 2 days, so any pathogens carried by the tick might have been transmitted. I recommended printing the Tick-Borne Diseases and Non-Pathogenic Impacts sheet, circling the identified species and life stage, writing down the estimated time of attachment, and calling their health care professional.
One last question often asked – “Should I get the tick tested?”
We follow the CDC recommendation of nothaving the tick tested for diagnostic purposes. The reasons include:
Positive results showing that the tick contains a disease-causing organism do not necessarily mean that you have been infected.
Negative results can lead to false assurance. You may have been unknowingly bitten by a different tick that was infected.
If you have been infected, you will probably develop symptoms before results of the tick test are available. If you do become ill, you should not wait for tick testing results before beginning appropriate treatment.
Promoting IPM, including monitoring and personal protection, as best management practices for avoiding ticks and tick-borne disease.
This really isn’t the best time to need to head to the doctors. If you don’t get bitten by a tick, you don’t need to go through this process. Our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign provides you with the information you need to protect yourself from the risk of tick-borne diseases. Check it out before your next trip outdoors.
Let’s stay safe out there as we enjoy the beautiful spring.
February 21, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Dr. Jennifer Grant receives the New York State Turfgrass Association Citation of Merit
On Wednesday, February 12th, the New York State Turfgrass Association (NYSTA) Central Regional Conference provided the backdrop for a special recognition.
“NYSTA’s Citation of Merit award recognizes someone who is dedicated to turfgrass research and education, and promotes the careers of those in the turf industry. The New York State Turfgrass Association commends Jennifer for her leadership and service to the turfgrass industry and her valued commitment to environmental stewardship principles. Jennifer’s work secured the foundation of a nationally-respected IPM program. NYSTA is honored to include her in our prestigious group of Citation of Merit recipients.”
It’s clear that nominees have certainly earned the admiration and respect of their peers and colleagues. Those of us who work with her everyday couldn’t agree more.
Dr. Betsy Lamb, Dr. Jennifer Grant, and NYSTA’s Vice President, Steven Whipple
NYSIPM’s own Dr. Betsy Lamb was able to announce and present the award. “I am pleased and honored to announce that the 2020 Citation of Merit is awarded to Jennifer Grant, my colleague and friend.”
Here are some of the accolades:
Kevin Cassidy, New York State Director of Golf
“I first met Jennifer 20 years ago when she and Frank Rossi approached Bethpage State Park looking to apply their IPM research to a fully operational golf course. In 2010, what was learned initially through trial and error on Bethpage’s Green Course was expanded successfully to our entire golf operation statewide (19 facilities). I have witnessed firsthand Jennifer imparting her wisdom and passion to all of our facilities, reinforcing the fact that they can indeed provide top notch playing conditions, while doing it in an environmentally sustainable manner. I was thrilled to hear that Jen was being awarded the Citation of Merit by the NYSTA – what a well deserving recipient. Congratulations my friend!!”
Kyle Wickings, Associate Professor, Cornell Entomology
Dr. Kyle Wickings
“I have always been impressed by Jennifer’s perspective on the turfgrass industry. Her knowledge of the needs and interests of our stakeholders and commitment to improving the sustainability of turf make for an excellent combination. I continue to use this as a model when gauging the value of my lab’s research and extension programming.”
Julie Suarez, Associate Dean, Office of Governmental and Community Relations
“Jennifer’s strength, grace, and great kindness are the traits I will miss the most. I am, of course, impressed with her tremendous accomplishments in the field of IPM – the living turfgrass BMP’s, all her work with Bethpage and Parks on pollinator habitat – the list can be endless. But what I will miss the most are the endearing personal qualities that she has always brought to her job – the steadfast commitment, perseverance, and ability to figure out how to just make things happen and frequently on a shoe string.”
Andy Wilson, Bethpage State Park Director of Agronomy
Jennifer and Andrew Wilson during a teaching event on Bethpage State Park Golf Course
“Jennifer’s diligence to not only Bethpage but New York State led us to be at the forefront of seeking solutions and experimenting with novel approaches to pest problems that reduce reliance on pesticides. Those solutions and approaches sometimes do not work, which is part of the process. Which makes me appreciate Jen’s patience. As a golf course superintendent I can admit we are an impatient bunch. Dr. Grant has dealt with some of our frustration and persisted in guiding us along a path where we are more thoughtful about how we maintain the golf course short and long term. When I first met Jennifer 20 years ago I did not realize how lucky I was to work with someone so talented.”
Dr. Frank Rossi, Associate Professor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Cornell University
Dr. Frank Rossi
“In my thirty years of working around the world on progressive IPM, no single person has had greater impact on adoption of IPM principles that generally lead to reduced pesticide use than Dr. Jennifer Grant. She has lead industries throughout NY quietly but diligently toward principles of land management (beyond turf) that have made NY agriculture and communities among the most productive and environmentally responsible in the world.”
Scouting for pests–in this case grubs–is key to successful IPM, and IPM has always been the focus of Jen’s trainings.
March 28, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on 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.
While visiting our blog, you have also been checking out older posts. Our second most popular post viewed in 2018 was a 2014 post, Identifying Your Pest – with Poop?. There are a lot of budding scatologists out there.
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:
Our new Spotted Lanternfly video, Have YOU Spotted Lanternfly Egg Masses was just posted, but it has already reached the number two spot. This invasive insect is getting a lot of attention and we need your help to keep track of it in New York.
Today’s post is from Brian Eshenaur, Senior Extension Associate for Ornamental Crops Integrated Pest Management Program, working out of Monroe County.
As fall approaches with its chilly air and increased soil moisture, fungi often respond by producing mushrooms. Think of mushroom structures as the “flower” of the fungi. The gills under the umbrella cap produce tiny spores. Like seeds, they disperse on the breeze or foot traffic and may grow under suitable conditions.
The mushrooms we see indicate an extensive network of fungal hyphae below ground. They are not feeding on the lawn, rather it’s dead organic matter on which they decay and digest, and most often start on dead roots or stumps.
What should a homeowner do?
First, realize that they are not harming the lawn and will fade back into the ground in a matter of days. Enjoy the temporary display! However, if curious young children or pets will be around the mushrooms, it’s best to step on them to reduce their visibility and any temptation to take a nibble. Most mushrooms are harmless but, until you’re an expert at recognizing the poisonous ones, err on the side of caution.
Brian Eshenaur is a Sr. Extension Associate for Ornamental Crops Integrated Pest Management Program, 2449 St. Paul Blvd., Rochester, NY 14620
Brian works with producers of greenhouse and nursery crops as well as Christmas tree growers. He conducts applied research and delivers educational programs in these areas with the goal of improving pest management and the adoption of IPM techniques. For more about his work, visit our website.
August 17, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen Comments Off on Crusader for sustainably managed golf courses earns excellence in IPM
Bob Portmess was a mechanical engineer and former executive with Cox Communications who just happened to be an avid golfer.
That last item is key. Twelve years ago, Portmess walked into turf guru Frank Rossi’s office at Cornell University. He knew exactly what he wanted: to work, he said, “with the people who produce the finest golf playing surfaces in the world.”
Two years later, Portmess had received his Masters of Professional Studies from Cornell. His focus: turfgrass management. He was synthesizing the practical knowledge that Rossi and colleague Jennifer Grant now director of NYSIPM) had amassed over seven years of experimental work at the world-renowned Bethpage Golf Course, also a New York State Park.
By the following year, Portmess had developed an “IPM Handbook” of best management practices for sustainable turf, informed in part by his engineering background. This handbook, now translated into Spanish, served as a resource for the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America’s seminar that Portmess co-instructed at several International Golf Shows. It continues to guide management of New York’s 29 state park golf courses as well as golf courses around the country that want to cut back on inputs while maintaining top quality turf.
Portmess’s passion for teaching turned out to be as consuming as his passion for golf. “Whether it was frequent light topdressing, root pruning, over-seeding, better ways to aerify the soil, or careful use of water—Bob taught them all,” says Larry Specchio, superintendent at Chenango Valley State Park Golf Course. Each tactic Specchio notes is a core IPM method.
“I find myself almost daily wanting to pick up my phone and call him; he was more than just a consultant to me,” Specchio says. “No one has a had a more positive impact on my career than Bob.”
Rossi couldn’t have predicted it at that time, of course, but that meeting in 2006 turned out to be one of the most important partnerships of his career.
“For that, I owe Bob more than simply a nomination for an award he is more than worthy of, but rather my own continued commitment to the work that he started,” Rossi says.
Lake in the background, greens near the front. Here’s where Portmess’ family received the Excellence in IPM award.
Sadly, Portmess passed away before he could see the full impact of his work. “Losing Bob Portmess was a tragedy” said Rose Harvey, commissioner of New York State Parks. “But his legacy lives on in the sustainable management of our golf courses.”
Melinda Portmess, Portmess’s widow, received the Excellence of IPM award at a ceremony at Green Lakes State Park in Syracuse on August 10th.