New York State IPM Program

May 15, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #7 Organic Farming…and Don’t Get Ticked NY

Stubborn Pests: Organic Solutions

All crops have pests. Managing them on certified organic farms is firmly rooted in IPM practices such as crop rotation, sanitation, and the use of pest-resistant varieties. In fact, it’s written into the regulations. But despite the best IPM prevention practices, pesticides are still needed for certain stubborn pests. With organic vegetable production gaining in importance in New York—a 28% increase in the number of farms from 2011 to 2016—growers have an even greater need for objective information about allowed pest management products.

To provide that info, we teamed up with Cornell AgriTech faculty members Chris Smart, Brian Nault, and Tony Shelton to conduct trials. At the end of nine years, we have many successes that are effective options for cucurbit powdery mildew, squash vine borer, worms on brassicas, potato leafhopper, and others.

Alas, some pests still have us stymied, namely striped cucumber beetle and cucurbit downy mildew, so pesticide testing will continue. Next up, we focus on pests, beneficials, and weed IPM in organic squash production systems. And, to accommodate the increasing number of researchers working in organic systems, we’re helping Cornell AgriTech transition 24 acres of research fields into certified organic production. IPM and organic: natural partners.

Photo of striped cucumber beetle

(Above) Double damage. The sharp-dressed striped cucumber beetle causes direct damage, massing on newly emerged or transplanted seedlings and sometimes chewing them to the ground, while also transmitting a sometimes-fatal bacterial wilt.

Don’t Get Ticked NY!

image of illustrated child with tick on skin

(Above) Ticks prefer moist, warm places. Teach children to make tick-checks a personal habit—the last defense against disease transmission. Knowing the spots and bumps on their skin helps them recognize new ones—new ones that happen to have legs.

Ticks are really ticking off New Yorkers worried about Lyme disease, the United States’ number one vector-borne pathogen. It’s transmitted by the blacklegged tick found abundantly throughout our state. This particular pest can also spread diseases like anaplasmosis, babesiosis, and Powassan virus. Unfortunately, additional tick species abound, and together, the many illnesses they can cause are serious threats to human health. That’s why NYSIPM is committed to reducing the impact of these little blood-suckers.

Recognizing our ability to effectively convey key risk-reducing strategies, the NYS Senate’s Task Force on Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases joined the fight by funding our Don’t Get Ticked NY campaign. We provide easy-to-understand information at the website, and distribute ID cards, infographics and tick removal kits to educators and the public statewide through community events, extension offices and BOCES. Last year we handed out almost 50,000 tick ID cards, a few thousand tick removal kits, and directly reached over 5,000 people.

“Tick-educated” New Yorkers now recognize tick habitats, and—rather than avoid the outdoors—now know how to look and feel for ticks during their daily tick check. While threats from ticks continue to increase, so does New Yorkers’ awareness of how to stave them off. So please … don’t get ticked, New York.

photo shows items inside a tick kit: magnifier, pointy tweezers, tick identification card, alchol swabs, small mirror for checking hard to see places, small zip loc bag to place tick in if found. All parts of a tick kit that is a small zippered pouch to keep handy when going outside.

(Above) Get the pointy. Our Don’t Get Ticked New York Tick Kits are popular handouts at events across the state. You can make your own by gathering pointy tweezers, a magnifier, a mirror, alcohol wipes, and a vial or plastic bag to store the offender. But kits won’t help you if you don’t have them nearby. Our tick cards are the perfect resource to have on hand, and you can print out the same graphics from our website at www.DontGetTickedNY.org.

May 12, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report #6- Certified Crop Advisor Training; Saving the Douglas-fir

Certifiably IPM

Growers and crop consultants need training like everyone else, so they go to school. The Northeast Region Certified Crop Advisers (NRCCA) offer regional and international certifications. NRCCA has online courses and a three-day intensive training conference covering four competency areas. And did we mention exams? Becoming a certified crop advisor takes dedication.

The curriculum covers the management of crops, soil, nutrients, and of course, IPM. NRCCA hosts experts from several universities and representatives from agribusiness who come together annually to facilitate basic and advanced trainings.

NYSIPM is integral to NRCCA training. We offer cutting-edge advanced instruction to students on how to scout for weeds, insects, and crop diseases, along with the latest environmentally-sound management recommendations. NYSIPM has become increasingly involved in field crops and vegetable training, and we now sit on the NRCCA exam board. We developed basic training video content for the IPM, plant pathology, and entomology components of the curriculum. It includes advanced field crops topics like our biologically-based bird repellant project, scouting 101, cereal leaf beetle biocontrol, and the soybean cyst nematode. We also helped NRCCA expand beyond the typical field crops arena by organizing a half-day Vegetable IPM School.

NYSIPM’s involvement in NRCCA training is an outstanding opportunity to reach industry representatives, crop consultants, custom applicators, farmers, academics, and soil and water conservation district staff with the IPM message. That’s certifiably IPM!

photo show people scouting for pests in a mature corn field

(Above) Pest management is an ever-changing challenge. New pests, cultural practices, and availability of products mean there’s always something to learn.

All I Want for Christmas

Everybody loves a Douglas-fir. Dignified and triangular, they have soft bluish-green needles and are native to temperate rainforests in the United States. Though not a true fir, they are the most Christmassy of Christmas trees for many. And Doug-fir has been popular with growers because of its resistance to deer damage, tolerance for warmer climates and wet soils, adaptability, and ability to grow quickly. That’s why it’s an important part of New York’s multimillion-dollar evergreen tree farming industry.

But Doug-fir has fallen out of favor with tree farmers because of Swiss needle cast disease—a fungal infection that makes the tree lose its needles and its holiday value. This iconic tree has gotten a reputation among growers for needing numerous and costly sprays.

What if this were not the case, and Doug-firs could be maintained with minimal sprays? NYSIPM ran on-farm trials and found that one or two well-timed sprays with good coverage were just as effective as the four or five sprays many growers currently apply.

Likewise, growers who adopted the reduced spray regimen report good results.

Beautiful trees and reduced pesticide applications? That gives everyone a Merry Christmas.

photo of a douglas fir christmas tree farm

Douglas-fir Christmas Tree Farm

May 1, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 In the Weeds and For the Birds

Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 In the Weeds and For the Birds

In the Weeds

Herbicide resistant weeds. Got ‘em? Worried about ‘em? There are some bad ones out there. Some of the baddest in New York are horseweed, waterhemp, and Palmer amaranth. A result of repeated exposure to the same chemical sprays, these plants have given us all a lesson on the power of selection pressure. The crisis brought about by these super-tough weeds motivated NYSIPM to hire an integrated weed management specialist to help growers find a diverse blend of solutions. So what can be done? Instead of relying on herbicides alone, use the ‘many little hammers’ approach: attack weeds with a variety of tactics such as stacked cultivation—a mechanical method that undercuts, uproots, and then buries weeds. Because precision is key in stacked cultivation, GPS and camera guidance help keep tools in line. That’s the difference between destroying your weeds or your crop. What’s next? We’re providing input on the design of robots able to distinguish between the weeds and the crop—aka autonomous weed control. And we’re helping test an electric WeedZapper that has already demonstrated its effectiveness against horseweed. By integrating the latest technology with the oldest, IPM offers growers the many little hammers they need to create a resilient, robust weed management system for their farm.

Bryan Brown examines a waterhemp plant found in this soybean field.

(Above) Will waterhemp win? Facing a 56% decreased yield in this waterhemp-infested soybean field, NYSIPM’s Integrated Weed Management Specialist, Bryan Brown, leads a project funded by the New York Farm Viability Institute. This herbicide-resistant weed can grow an inch a day, and is an impressive seed producer. Through diversified approaches, the project has provided complete control of waterhemp in some trial sites, prompting 94% of attendees at field events to say they’ll follow the lead of this project and modify their tactics for weed control.

Anthraquinones are for the Birds

What do crows, ravens, blackbirds, starlings, grackles, Canada geese, gulls, and wild turkeys all have in common? They’re recurring pests of corn on New York farms, pulling seedlings out of the soil as soon as they emerge. Stony soils, and shallow and no-till plantings are most at risk.What’s a grower to do? Traditionally they lived with the losses, or replanted if there was time. One New York farmer was ready to quit until trying Avipel Shield, the biopesticide seed treatment containing anthraquinone, an extract found in rhubarb and many other plants. Apparently, birds don’t like it. So after a few nibbles of treated seed, they move on and look elsewhere for food. NYSIPM set out to test whether anthraquinone worked in fields that suffer major bird damage. Along with extension specialists in eight counties, we conducted trials on treated and untreated seeds in fields that typically suffer heavy loss to birds. Three years of data confirmed Avipel leaves a bad taste in birds’ mouths. Further trials will help farmers know whether treated seed is needed everywhere every year, or if random use can deter feeding. Meanwhile, these tasty results have been a hot topic at field meetings, crop congresses, and certified crop advisor trainings throughout the state.

Photo shows a red-wing blackbird in field of newly sprouted corn plants.

(Above) Fully fledged. Field Crops & Livestock IPM Extension Educator Ken Wise believes this project’s secondary success was its considerable collaboration. Funding came from three different sources over the three-year period—NYSIPM, NYS Corn Growers Association, and the NYS Farm Viability Institute. Just as important was the partnership among 11 farmers, nine extension educators, and one faculty member

April 29, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual report: #3 Corn Earworm and Just What is a ‘Short Course’?

Our 2018-2019 Annual report: #3 Corn Earworm and Just What is a ‘Short Course’?

The Year of the Corn Earworm

Nobody likes opening an ear of corn and finding uninvited worms; not customers, and definitely not the grower! Wormy corn can lose customers at the farm stand and in wholesale markets, and can be a problem in both frozen and canned supermarket products. To help growers manage these pests, NYSIPM—in partnership with our Cornell Cooperative Extension colleagues—has supported a network of pheromone traps since 1993. These traps help track the flights of the moths that lay the eggs that hatch into these worms.

In 2018, the trap network alerted growers to an over-the-top population of corn earworm, one of four major sweet corn pests. And because IPM spray recommendations for this pest are based on trap catch numbers, that important data helped New York growers respond effectively to this serious threat to a 33 million dollar crop grown on 26,700 acres. Unfortunately, when a grower or processor finds worms in harvested corn, it’s too late to act—but accurate ID can inform plans for the following season. Essential to success is deciding if and when to spray using the appropriate scouting methods and thresholds for each pest. But accurate ID? Easier said than done! Caterpillars can be hard to identify, especially smaller ones. That’s why we developed a larval ID fact sheet highlighting critical distinguishing features. It’s just another piece of essential information in the quest for worm-free ears.

photo of corn earworm on ear of corn

(Above) Corn earworm invades the ear within hours or days of hatching from eggs laid on the silk, leaving no external damage. For this pest, scouting is ineffective. Pheromone traps that monitor adult flight are the grower’s best defense.

“I” is for Identification.

Good IPM starts with accurate pest identification—ID for short. Whether you see a pest or the evidence it leaves behind, correct ID is essential. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can determine where it’s coming from, the risks it poses, and what conditions must change to eliminate it. Good ID makes IPM work. Even people who deal with pests all the time need to brush up on their ID skills, so we developed a Structural IPM Short Course to hone the diagnostic skills of pest management professionals, Master Gardeners, and others. Participants attend photo-filled lectures and get their hands on hundreds of real specimens. Critters are grouped by guild—their basic ecological niche—such as food pests, moisture-lovers, or blood-feeders. And specimens aren’t just bugs. Rodent droppings and gnawed wood get examined too. To aid learning and retention, we created a companion manual. We’ve offered the course 21 times, teaching the ABCs (you know: ants, bed bugs, and cockroaches) to over 700 people. And our learners learned: over three quarters gained knowledge of pest biology, while 100% improved their ID skills. We identify that as 100% good news for everyone but the pests.

photo shows a classroom setting where master gardeners are learning to ideinty pests

(Above) These Master Gardeners from Rockland County, like their counterparts in 20 other Short Course workshops, left feeling more informed and confident in the IPM knowledge they’ll share with the public. IPM and Cooperative Extension: a perfect pairing.

 

March 27, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Highlights from the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo

Highlights from the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo

Today’s post is from Bryan Brown PhD, NYS IPM

Weeding tools have come a long way! Last summer, Eric Gallandt invited me to present the results of my latest “stacked” cultivation trials at the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo. I brought my camera along to document the exciting exhibits by vendors and other researchers. Stacked cultivation featured prominently, as did enhanced accuracy ­– achieved through improved steering capability or camera-guided tools.

(Above) KULT Kress demonstrated their camera guided sweeps and finger weeders (only one row operating). These weeds were too large for optimal finger weeder performance. In-row weeds are most effectively controlled when less than one inch tall.

image shows a monitor mounted on tractor.

(above) The camera guidance system display was brought out from the tractor cab to show participants how it focuses on green plants to determine the location of the crop row.

image is three images side by side showing three angles of a cultivator pulled behind the tractor

(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).

Image shows a sales rep from Steketee company, standing next to a pull behind cultivator that uses a multi-faceted method of disturbing soil and uprooting weeds

(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).

image shows a Tilmor tractor with weeding equipment suspended beneath to front end. Motor is under and behind the driver.

(above) The cultivating tractor from Tilmor is reminiscent of the Allis Chalmers G, but notice the new crane-winch system for moving tools into place.

image shows a pull behind cultivator with mutlple soil disturbance adaptions

(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.

photo shows two hand pushed cultivators, each with multiple weeder attachments

(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.

image shows two researchers discussing their use of multi-functional weeding cultiivators

(above) Ellen Mallory PhD, and Tom Molloy from UMaine discuss their results testing the potential of the CombCut and inter-row hoeing in small grains.

image shows a small attachment suitable for weeding grain fields.

(above) “Stacking” cultivation tools is not just for vegetable crops, this combination has proved effective in small grains.

(above) Slow-motion-video of camera-guided hoeing in a small grain. This practice is gaining popularity in Europe but is still uncommon in the United States.

(below) The futuristic “Tertill” from Franklin Robotics. This solar-powered weeding robot attacks weeds with a string trimmer on its belly and it senses crop plants based on their height. I can’t believe this is now on the market! Flying cars will be next!

graphic showing photo of Bryan Brown and his information. Email him at b r y a n dot b r o w n at cornell dot edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 4, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Summary of Stacked Cultivation Trials in New York

Summary of Stacked Cultivation Trials in New York

photo portrait of Dr. Bryan Brown

Dr. Bryan Brown

Today’s Post comes from NYSIPM’s Dr. Bryan Brown

Using several different cultivation implements at once, or “stacking” tools, can improve weed control effectiveness. From my work at the University of Maine, Eric Gallandt and I showed that certain cultivation tools work synergistically together, particularly those combinations that undercut, then uproot, then bury weeds. Unfortunately crop damage was high in the trial results from Maine. So in New York, I made some adjustments to be gentler on the crop ­– wider spacing between tools, removed center tines on the row harrow, and tested a new hiller to bury weeds without contacting the crop (Figure 1). And GPS guidance was a big improvement too!

 

Figure 1. Cultivation implements used in these trials were A) sweeps, B) finger weeders (yellow and row harrow (blue), and C) a disk hiller. For full explanation of implement adjustments and trial methods, see the project report at  https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/64539

Figure 2. Results of cultivation trials in snap beans. This was the first cultivation event following planting and tillage. At cultivation, snap beans were 6” tall, while weeds were 0.5” tall in 2018 and 1” tall in 2019.

Figure 3. Results of cultivation trials in beets. First cultivation occurred at either the 2-leaf stage or about one week later at the 4-leaf stage. 2019 beets trials were planted in the spring, whereas 2018 beets were planted late-summer, with lower-growing winter annual weeds present.

Overall, the adjustments made in these trials greatly reduced crop damage while weed control remained high. I was most impressed with the stacked combo of sweeps plus fingers plus disk hillers, which consistently controlled the greatest percentage of weeds. These results also demonstrate that in-row cultivation should not be conducted prior to the 4-leaf stage in beets. For more information on integrated weed management, contact bryan.brown@cornell.edu. This project was supported by a USDA NIFA CPPM.

 

 

 

September 6, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Weeding Now Reduces Weeds Later

Weeding Now Reduces Weeds Later

Photo shows Dr. Bryan Brown in a soybean field looking at a waterhemp plant.

Dr. Bryan Brown examines a single WATERHEMP plant capable of producing thousands of seeds.

Summer annual weeds start flowering in early August, so it’s important to control them beforehand to prevent seed production. This is true for commercial growers and for homeowners.  One of the most prolific is waterhemp, a bane to growers because it’s also resistant to herbicides. According to our INTEGRATED WEED MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, DR. BRYAN BROWN, waterhemp is likely resistant to herbicide Groups 2, 5, and 9 in NY.

photo of top of mature waterhemp plant

That’s why Bryan is collaborating with growers and researchers around the state to investigate other controls, including cultivation, cover cropping, and even a device that zaps weeds with electricity. Funding for this work was provided by the Farm Viability Institute.

“Here we’re removing waterhemp that survived some of our herbicide treatments in soybeans. Because this trial is done in a grower’s field and we don’t want it to spread, we’re removing it before it sets seed (up to 500,000).”

Soybean grower? Here’s what Bryan and Regional Field Crops Specialist, Mike Hunter explained in their CORNELL FIELD CROPS Blog:

While other pigweed species have short hairs on their stems, waterhemp and Palmer amaranth have smooth stems. The best way to distinguish waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is to rip off one of the lower leaves. Another characteristic of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is separate male (pollen producing) and female (seed producing) plants. Herbicide resistance traits can transfer by pollen, which has allowed these weeds to develop resistance faster.

To prevent these weeds from taking hold, growers are also recommended to start weed-free with tillage, followed by a 2-pass program of residual and post-emergence herbicides that utilizes several effective sites of action. Foliar applied herbicides should be used when these weeds are less than four inches tall. Since these weeds emerge over a broader timeframe than most weeds, mid-season residual herbicide applications should be considered, along with increased planting density or tighter row spacing to help close the canopy earlier.

photo shows close up of water hemp stalk with small leaves

Waterhemp weed showing growth pattern.

If you do find yourself with escapes of these weeds, it makes economic sense to go hand-rogue those weeds out of your fields rather than deal with 200,000 to one million seeds in your soil from each weed. If there are too many to bag up by hand, consider sacrificing that patch of your crop by mowing and tilling the area before the weeds produce seed. Avoid harvesting these areas. Combines are especially good at spreading weed seeds. If you must harvest these areas, know that combines can carry 150 pounds of plant material even you think it’s empty, so check out some of the great online videos on how to clean them out after going through weedy fields.

The weakness of waterhemp and Palmer amaranth is the short lifespan of their seeds in the soil. Of those that don’t germinate, very few will survive in the soil for more than four years. So, if you can keep it under control for four years, you won’t have much of it after that. But as one Pennsylvania grower put it, “the cheapest way to control Palmer amaranth is to never get it in the first place.” So, it’s important to make sure that your seed, feed, bedding, and equipment are clean from the start.

Photo of Dr. Bryan Brown with waterhemp weeds we removed from a soybean field.

Dr. Bryan Brown works with growers, extension educators, industry leaders, and researchers to address knowledge gaps in weed IPM and develop programming to improve adoption of effective weed management practices. His work covers all agricultural crops throughout New York.

logo of New York Farm Viability Institute

Thank you, NY Farm Viability Institute

July 31, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Onion Growers Put Skin in the Game, Earn Excellence in IPM Award

Onion Growers Put Skin in the Game, Earn Excellence in IPM Award

Elba onion growers, Matt Mortellaro, Guy Smith, Chuck Barie, Emmaline Long, and Mark and Max Torrey received an Excellence in IPM Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program. The six are muck onion farmers in Elba, NY who meet weekly during the growing season for what is known as Muck Donut Hour, to discuss crop protection tactics.

Photo of recipients of Excellence in IPM Awards and Cornell staff.

Elba muck onion growers received their awards for Excellence in Onion Integrated Pest Management from New York State IPM in a small roadside ceremony appropriately at Muck Donut Hour this week. Flanked by Brian Nault, Cornell Onion Entomologist on the left, and Christy Hoepting, Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program Onion Specialist on the right are award recipients, Chuck Barie (CY Farms), Peter Smith (filling in for award winner Guy Smith with Triple G Farms), Emmaline Long (CY Farms), Matt Mortellaro (G. Mortellaro & Sons), Jennifer Grant (Director of NYIPM) and Max Torrey, Torrey Farms. Missing from photo was Mark Torrey.

Onions grown in muck soil—organically rich former swampland where production practices are unique and intense—are one of the most valuable crops in New York, with an average value of $34.6 million. In the Elba muck and surrounding pockets in Orleans, Genesee, and Livingston counties, eight farms produce 40% of the New York onion acreage on 3,000 acres. Mortellaro, Triple G, CY, and Big O farms account for almost 75% of that production.

In 2005, onion thrips infestations were nearly uncontrollable in New York. Populations of the vegetable-loving insect were resistant to multiple insecticides, and the hot and dry conditions created a worst-case scenario, causing crop losses exceeding 30%. The Elba muck growers helped Cornell researchers conduct dozens of research trials and host large-scale demonstrations on their land, in an attempt to understand the biology, ecology, and management of thrips. “The result culminated in a practical thrips management program, which includes regular scouting of onion fields followed by sparing use of insecticides designed to minimize resistance”, said Brian Nault, Professor of Entomology at Cornell AgriTech.

The Elba growers are now able to successfully manage their thrips infestations. They average between 1- 4 fewer insecticide applications and have saved an average of $113/acre, which is approximately $6,000-$226,000 per farm per year. In addition to regular scouting, the other key tool in the IPM arsenal is information exchange and discussions at the Muck Donut Hour, which Christy Hoepting, Senior Extension Associate with the Cornell Vegetable Program, describes as a way she keeps her ‘finger on the pulse’ of the pest complex each year.

Photo shows someone holding a glazed donut with a background of an onion muck field.

Muck Donut Hour is a long-standing tradition.

A CCE tradition for over twenty years, the Muck Donut Hour is held weekly during the growing season. There growers and researchers discuss the latest research findings, scouting and spray reports. Hoepting notes the willingness of the muck onion farmers to entrust their crops to Cornell’s research, and their transparency in sharing spray records. She continues: “the Elba growers are undeniably brave; to so wholeheartedly adopt IPM practices demonstrates the extent of their faith in Cornell’s research on their farms. The risk of a pest spiraling out of control in a high-value onion crop is frightening. Clearly, these growers believe in solid science and go above and beyond to support it.”

Photo shows Christy Hoepting in an onion field.

CCE Educator Christy Hoepting

Steven Beer, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University, says, “without the cooperation of the Elba onion growers, it is not likely that so many IPM-themed tactics would have been adequately tested under real grower conditions. They set the standard for other growers.”

The Elba muck onion farmers are: Matt Mortellaro, a third generation muck farmer and co-owner of G. Mortellaro & Sons, with his brother Paul. “Matt is a fearless leader in adopting IPM strategies. He is committed to sustainable onion production and environmental stewardship, and is a strong advocate of onion IPM,” adds Hoepting. Guy Smith, a fourth generation muck farmer, owns Triple G Farms with his brother Greg and nephew Peter. Guy represents the Elba growing region on the board of directors for the New York Onion Research and Development Program. Chuck Barie and Emmaline Long are Crop Production Managers for CY Farms LLC, which grows 120 acres in Batavia and Elba. Chuck has been responsible for planting, spraying, irrigating and harvesting the onions for over twenty years. Emmaline joined the farm in 2014, after graduating from Cornell; she scouts CY’s entire onion acreage weekly, including counting thrips, to implement IPM. Together, she and Chuck make pest management decisions. CY has the ability to micro manage every 5-20 acre onion field based on each area’s precise pest management needs. Mark and Max Torrey are a father and son onion growing duo, and 11th and 12th generation farmers with Torrey Farms Inc. Max serves as the General Manager for Torrey’s onion operation, Big O Farms. As the largest grower in Elba, the Torrey’s pest management practices affect everyone, Hoepting adds, “Their commitment to implementing resistance management strategies and following IPM spray thresholds has been instrumental in preserving the longevity of insecticides remaining effective against thrips.”
The award will be presented to the pioneering growers during their Muck Donut Hour on July 30.

NYSIPM develops sustainable ways to manage pests and helps people use methods that minimize environmental, health and economic risks. The award honors individuals who encourage the adoption of IPM in their businesses, schools, communities, and farms, and who develop new tools and tactics for sharing these practices. Learn more about Integrated Pest Management at nysipm.cornell.edu.

Media contact: Vegetable IPM Educator Abby Seaman
FOR HI RES PHOTOS

Article written by Mariah Courtney Mottley

July 16, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Senior Worm Wrangler Safeguards North Country Crops, wins Excellence in IPM Award

Senior Worm Wrangler Safeguards North Country Crops, wins Excellence in IPM Award

Press Release by Mariah Courtney Mottley. Media contact: Jaime Cummings

Elson Shields, a Cornell entomology professor, received an Excellence in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Award from the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (NYSIPM) at Cornell University’s Aurora Farm Field Day on the Musgrave Research Farm. NYSIPM develops sustainable ways to manage pests and helps people to use methods that minimize environmental, health and economic risks. The award honors individuals who encourage the adoption of IPM in their businesses, schools, communities, and farms, and who develop new tools and tactics for sharing these practices.

Elson Shields

Elson Shields, right, and Charles Bornt, left, Extension Vegetable Specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture team. Elson is explaining the process of EPN application for a biocontrol project to suppress wireworms in the field. Photo: T. Rusinek.

The alfalfa snout beetle, an invasive pest, is a perennial threat to north country alfalfa. In the absence of any registered insecticides for this pest, growers are forced to only use cultural and biological controls. Shields found success protecting alfalfa from the snout beetle with the use of native entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs). Nematodes are tiny worms that parasitize and eventually kill the beetle larvae, and stay in the soil to infect future generations of the pest. Shields pioneered the use of nematodes that persist in the soil, and has been able to control snout beetles as long as six years after a single application of EPNs.

Shields has taught growers to rear the EPNs and to apply them to their own crops. Dr. Shields is also exploring ways to use these beneficial nematodes to protect specialty crops. He works with agribusiness consultants in the private sector and other researchers in the public sector. His effective strategy with persistent EPNs has been featured in trade journals such as Growing Produce, Good Fruit Grower and Dairy Herd Management. He received an Entomological Foundation Award for Excellence in IPM in 2013, and his promotion of persistent EPNs is being widely adopted.

Dr. Shields is seen in this photo as he speaks with a group of growers.

Dr. Elson Shields speaks with farmers about his Northern New York Agricultural Development Program alfalfa snout beetle research at a field day in Belleville, NY. Photo courtesy of the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program.

By studying the persistence of nematodes applied to alfalfa through a crop rotation that included several years of corn, Shields observed that EPNs were also helping to control the corn rootworm, on their vacation time from alfalfa. Through collaborations with horticultural researchers, Shields is working on applying persistent EPNs as biological controls in crops such as strawberry, cranberry, sweet potato and turf. He is also studying the potential for using these techniques on greenhouse ornamentals.

Margaret Smith, Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Cornell University, commends Shields’ willingness to question standard pest management orthodoxy and to follow research results wherever they might lead. She continues, “Elson’s snout beetle IPM effort is an exemplar of an outstanding public sector pest management program. Shields has done pioneering, innovating, and broadly effective research on an array of crops. His record of success will be hard to match.”

Laura McDermott, Regional Extension Specialist, says: “Dr. Shields’ work with native entomopathogenic nematodes is some of the most exciting applied research I’ve been involved with in my 30-year extension career. This integration of a biological control method as a way to manage difficult soil-borne insect pests is inexpensive, effective, and truly sustainable. Elson ALWAYS has the growers in the forefront of his mind. His efforts to teach farmers how to raise and apply these nematodes is testimony to his understanding of their abilities.”

“New York Agriculture, including the dairy, vegetable and fruit industries, have benefitted greatly from Elson’s vision and willingness to go above and beyond what is expected,” says Teresa Rusinek, Extension Associate for Vegetable Production in Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County.  She continues, “I’ve observed at our field meetings and farm demo work that growers easily understand the system and readily adopt the biocontrol strategies Elson’s developed.”

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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