New York State IPM Program

September 13, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on 35,500 western bean cutworms later, it’s a record year for IPM in corn

35,500 western bean cutworms later, it’s a record year for IPM in corn

Got a sweet tooth for sweetcorn? You’re in good company. So should you hear rumors on the wind about wormy sweetcorn — or field corn or dry beans (the kind you put in your soup kettle) and you’re curious about what’s behind them, here’s the scoop:

The western bean cutworm (just call it “WBC”), a recent invasive, is making waves in the midwestern and eastern corn belts. This pest made landfall in New York’s million-plus acres of field corn in 2010, its numbers spiraling ever upward since. This year, though, has been a record-breaker. WBC has become a pest we can count on for a long time to come.

To cope with WBC, the New York State IPM Program coordinates a “pheromone trap network” for WBC in field corn; in dry beans too. A second IPM trap network focuses on sweetcorn, though it also traps for WBC in beans.

But what is a pheromone and how does the network work? Think of pheromones as scents that insects send wafting on the wind to alert others in their tribe that something important is happening — and the time to act is now. In this case, pheromones are the “come hither” perfumes female moths use to advertise for mates.

Trapped — one more male out looking for a date.

But lures imbued with chemical replicates of pheromones can intercept males on their quest, dooming them to a very different fate. IPM scouts strategically place special trap buckets around corn and bean fields.  Each contains a “kill strip” treated with an insecticide. Farmers, Extension educators, and crop consultants check the buckets each week to count their take.

And though it’s their larvae — the worms — that give WBC its name, here we’re counting the adults; in this case, moths.

It’s traps — and scouts — like these that do the job.

This year the two networks combined have caught more than 35,500 moths — far more than in any other year. Those in the know, know — this is not good. WBC is a sneaky critter. It even eats its eggshells as soon as it hatches, removing evidence that it’s out and about. Meanwhile, trap network numbers can vary considerably from county to county; even from farm to farm. Regardless, when armed with counts in their area farmers know when it’s time to ramp up scouting their fields. Because once they’ve reached threshold — the IPM “do-something” point — it’s time to act.

Why wait till a field reaches threshold? Because sprays are expensive — both to the farmers’ bottom line and the environment.  Because time is money too; spending it needlessly out on a rig does no favors. Because treating only at need is one very good way to keep all these costs as low as can be.

Because — it’s what IPM is here for.

August 1, 2017
by Bryan Brown
Comments Off on Abandoned fields: Weedy disaster or IPM opportunity?

Abandoned fields: Weedy disaster or IPM opportunity?

Farmers across New York have been struggling with the overabundance of rain this year — meaning that some cornfields never got planted. The result? Weeds have really taken off.

So what? If there’s no crop for weeds to compete with, what’s the danger?

Weeds make seeds, lots of seeds, which could cause a disaster in the next few crops. My research shows that plots where weeds went to seed had 10 times as many weeds the following year. If any of those weeds are herbicide resistant, they’ll drop thousands of herbicide-resistant seeds into farm fields.

But there’s hope. As of late July, most of these weeds are still flowering and haven’t set seed yet. Mowing is a great option to quickly prevent (classic IPM tactic!) the flowering weeds from setting seed. Yes, after mowing those weeds may send up new flowers. So it is important to kill them with herbicides or tillage before planting summer cover crops (check out the Cornell cover crop decision tool) or fall plantings of forage or winter grains.

Bryan Brown, Ph.D. stands in an unplanted cornfield where weeds have gone unmanaged

Doesn’t look like corn, does it? Weed seed production could cause disaster in future crops. But most of the weeds have yet to set seed — so management options are still on the table.

For many problem weeds, most seeds will die in the first couple years in the soil. So if you can keep weed seeds from entering the soil this year, you can really cut down the number of seeds in your soil. In IPM, prevention is the name of the game.

July 20, 2017
by Abby Seaman
Comments Off on Got late blight in your garden? Here’s what to do.

Got late blight in your garden? Here’s what to do.

An upside of last year’s dry growing season is that we had no reports in New York of late blight, the devastating disease of tomato and potato.

But 2017 is shaping up to be a very different season. We had our first late blight report in Erie County July 10th — and another one from Livingston County on the 13th.

Late blight has a toehold on your tomatoes. Act now.

Anyone growing tomatoes or potatoes should be aware of the risk and be alert for the first signs of late blight infection. Learn how to identify late blight — good IPM! — and distinguish it from other diseases with the Distinguishing Late Blight from Other Tomato and Potato Diseases and Identifying and Scouting for Late Blight on Farms videos.

You could also take a sample to your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office for diagnosis. Find your local Extension office at the Cornell Cooperative Extension web site.

Preventing Late Blight

The pathogen that causes late blight in the U.S. overwinters only in living potato tubers. To prevent late blight

  • be sure no infected tubers get through the winter alive
  • immediately destroy any plants that come up from potatoes that didn’t get harvested last year
  • plant certified seed potatoes.

Yet even if you do everything to prevent late blight from getting started in your garden, spores from nearby infected plants can be carried through the air to land on your tomatoes or potatoes.

Plant tomato varieties resistant to late blight to help prevent it from killing your plants — and prevention is a key tenet of IPM. Find a list of late blight resistant varieties in the article Late Blight Management in Tomato with Resistant Varieties.

Some varieties of potato — Elba, Kennebec, Sebago, and Serran among them — have some resistance; they will slow but not prevent late blight infection. If late blight becomes prevalent in your area, fungicides can protect your plants.

But act quickly, applying fungicide before plants are infected. Why? Products available for gardens cannot cure existing infections.

Want to track where late blight has been found? Sign up for text or email alerts on the usablight.org web site.

What to do if you find late blight in your garden

Take immediate action — otherwise you’ll be a source of infection for other gardens and farms. Infected plants release hundreds of thousands of spores that move on the breeze. But first confirm that what you have is late blight and not another tomato or potato disease.

County Cornell Cooperative Extension offices can offer a diagnosis or can submit a sample through the usablight.org web site. Reporting your find on usablight.org and submitting close-up and in-focus photos can sometimes be enough for us confirm a late blight infection.

Though we hate to say it, if the rainy conditions we’ve had so far this season continue, some of us will lose the battle against late blight. If that happens, you can find some suggestions for how to prevent your garden from being a source of infection for the whole neighborhood in the video What to Do if You Find Late Blight in Your Garden.

Good luck! And here’s hoping late blight doesn’t find you this season.

Lesions on leaves, stems, and fruit — it’s late blight in full bloom.

June 7, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Invasives are pests! Learn more at our July IPM conference.

Invasives are pests! Learn more at our July IPM conference.

We tend to default to bugs — to insects — when we think about pests. But plant diseases and weeds are pests too. And all threaten our fields and farms, our forests and streams, our homes and workplaces.

Pests provide no end of challenges — especially pests that come from afar. Among IPM’s strengths? Researching and crafting powerful ways to cope with them.

Coming up soon, our “Invasive Species in New York: Where We Are and What We Can Do” conference, held just north of Albany at Siena College. The date? July 13, 2017. Join us!

August 2, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Climate, Weather, Data: Crops and Landscapes

Climate, Weather, Data: Crops and Landscapes

With all the talk about climate change you might wonder how it will affect food production, pests, and even landscapes—and what you can do about it. From the Valentine’s Day massacre winter freeze to plant life gasping for water, changing weather patterns have affected our crops all over the Northeast. Learn how gathering information on weather and climate can help growers, gardeners and landscapers plan for changes. Find details on The Climate and Weather Conference webpage.

Remember the adage "knee high by the 4th of July"? This year it was ankle high. And dry.

Remember the adage “knee high by the 4th of July”? This year it was ankle high. And dry.

Climate, Weather, Data: Protecting Our Crops and Landscapes. It’s all happening August 15, 2016 at the Albany County Cornell Cooperative Extension Office, 24 Martin Rd., Voorheesville, NY, 12186.

We’re honored that Richard Ball, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, will kick off the conference. Speakers from New York and across the Northeast will discuss the current state of knowledge on climate change and changes in weather patterns. We’ll also learn how collecting climate and weather data can help us predict and manage pests. Open discussion sessions are included so you can ask your own questions. Join us.

Space is limited. Preregister here. Preregistration closes on August 10. The Climate, Weather, Data portal has maps, the agenda and registration details. Questions about registration? Email or call Amanda Grace at 315-787-2208.

The program runs from 9:00-4:15 and costs $45 and includes lunch, breaks and materials. Yes, get NYS DEC credits, too!

July 27, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Hiring Now: Four New NYS IPM Posts

Hiring Now: Four New NYS IPM Posts

The New York State IPM Program seeks four new staff to amplify our IPM outreach and research for farms and communities around New York. Here are the positions (three of them new) we seek to fill:

  • Biocontrol Specialist (Extension Associate)
  • Alternative Weed Management Specialist (Extension Associate)
  • Coordinator for the Network for Environment and Weather Applications (Extension Associate)
  • Coordinator for Livestock and Field Crops IPM (Senior Extension Associate)

Our mission: to develop sustainable ways to manage disease, insect, weed, and wildlife pests; and to help people use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks. Our agricultural and community programs have overlapping issues and settings. Agricultural IPM programming includes fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and livestock and field crops. Community IPM promotes insect, weed, plant disease and wildlife management in schools, homes, and workplaces as well as on lawns, playfields, golf courses, parks and landscapes; it also includes invasive species and public health pests. NYSIPM is a national leader in developing and promoting IPM practices.

Hands-on workshops held on neighborhood farms are a tried and true way to get IPM practices to stick.

Hands-on workshops held on neighborhood farms are a tried and true way to get IPM practices to stick.

We foster a collegial and cooperative environment where teamwork is emphasized and appreciated. We also collaborate with Cornell University faculty, staff, and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, as well as with specialists from other states and universities. These positions will be housed either in Geneva (NYSAES) or Ithaca (Cornell campus).

Education and Experience

All applicants must have an MS (required) or PhD (preferred) degree in entomology, plant pathology, horticulture or other suitable field. A minimum of two years professional experience in extension education and research or demonstration in required for extension associates and eight years for the senior extension associate. We will consider experience as a graduate student.

Additional Information AND HOW TO APPLY

For more information and application instructions, click here. Applications will be accepted until 8/31/2016 or until a suitable candidate is found.

February 10, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on IPM Accolades: What Do Growers Say?

IPM Accolades: What Do Growers Say?

If you flash back to last week’s TAg post, you’ll see our side of the story — how TAg teams provide hands-on help to growers for a host of pest (and profit) issues. But what do growers say? Here’s a small sample of the pleased comments we’ve received over the years:

How TAg has made you a better manager of your crops?

  • Brings to the forefront upcoming pest problems.
  • Made you go out and look for problems in the field before they became big problems and too late to do nay help.
  • Better disease and insect control.
  • It made me more aware of how important crop health relates to forage quality.

    TAg was in its late teens when we added a new and booming crop in NY: soybeans. But the principles (and the testimonial)) stayed pretty much the same. Photo courtesy NYS IIPM.

    TAg was in its late teens when we added a new and booming crop in NY: soybeans. But the principles (and the testimonial)) stayed pretty much the same. Photo courtesy NYS IIPM.

How TAg has made your farming operation more profitable?

  • Less pesticides, better yields.
  • Savings in spray and higher quality crops.
  • More feed value/acre with lower investment.
  • Given more options for pest control.
  • Increased my awareness of crop damage and how to control it.

What did you like most about TAg?

  • Small size of groups, opportunity to talk about various issues throughout the growing season.
  • I can get better quality crops by acting quickly to avoid loss.
  • Helped me better understand soils and the importance of rotating crops.
  • Showed me how much I don’t know and how important it is to keep up with information.
  • Looking at other farmers and different situations of planting and pest management opens your eyes to other ways of doing things.
  • The hands on experience means a lot.
  • Helped me better understand soils and the importance of rotating crops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again

February 6, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again

IPM TAg Teams: A Quarter Century Later, What’s Old Is New Again

The NYS IPM Program turns 30 this year — a great time for a look down memory lane. We were five years old, for instance, when we began our TAg — Tactical Agriculture — teams for field crop producers. Then (and now!), TAg teams across the state met at key times during the cropping season: not in a classroom, not in an office, but in the fields their members farmed. After all, there’s nothing like hands-on experience with real-world problems and successes to learn tested tactics for making the right diagnoses and determine the best way to deal with pest or crop problems under a range of conditions.

Small groups. Hands-on. Learning from each other — on the farm. That’s TAg.

Small groups. Hands-on. Learning from each other — on the farm. That’s TAg.

Back in 1990, we figured each team would comprise three growers, a couple of agribusiness professionals, and a local Extension educator. Only three growers; really; five participants total if you don’t include the instructors? Yes. We knew that for these adult learners, the small group setting provided the greatest opportunity for in-depth understanding and active, individual participation. Meanwhile, each of those farmers could have scores or hundreds of acres in alfalfa or corn (and now, soybeans). Every decision they made built their competency in both economic and environmental security while contributing to their region’s agricultural well being.

But that first year out of that gate, teams averaged nearly 10 members. Oh — and then there were the “TAg-alongs”: neighboring growers who knew a good thing when they saw it. By now we’ve worked with well over 1,100 growers — growers who make IPM decisions on well over a quarter of a million acres.

Before there was email, there was paper. Want to save your hay crop? Often the answer is “harvest now.”  But back then, you just might’ve had to wait a few days for that answer to show up in your mailbox. And those few days might have given alfalfa weevil a strong advantage.

Before there was email, there was paper. Want to save your hay crop? Often the answer is “harvest now.” But back then, you just might’ve had to wait a few days for that answer to show up in your mailbox. And those few days might have given alfalfa weevil a strong advantage.

Yes, running a TAg team is intensive. Yes, it takes time to do it right. Yes — farmers ask tough questions! And back then we couldn’t shoot members an email if, say, a storm threatened to run amok and we needed to reschedule. We did it all via phone and postcards. Meanwhile, by season’s end, team members were doing things like lending each other equipment or sharing their experience and knowledge outside of class — proving that knowledge is power, that small is beautiful; that — well, that while TAg is old, it’s also new: it’s an endlessly renewable resource. That TAg works. Hats off to TAg on its 25th anniversary.

Consider western corn rootworm. Now it’s old hat, but when we began TAg it was still the new pest on the block.

Consider western corn rootworm. Now it’s old hat, but when we began TAg it was still the new pest on the block.

November 21, 2014
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on DIY “Strip-Trials” for IPM On-Farm Research

DIY “Strip-Trials” for IPM On-Farm Research

Field corn is the king of crops in New York. This highest net-value and most widely grown crop occupies more than a million acres statewide. Some years it’s hammered by leaf blights that can cost considerably if not treated in time. Other years your crops get off almost unscathed. So — how to know which conditions tip the scales for health or disease on your farm — and thus whether you should spray or put that money to a different use?

Just because you needed a fungicide one year doesn't mean you will the next. Photo credit: G. Bergstrom, Cornell University

Just because you needed a fungicide one year doesn’t mean you will the next. Photo credit: G. Bergstrom, Cornell University

A savvy farmer who knows the risks and benefits of pesticides needs ways to tell if a given fungicide will provide higher yields and profits, and under what conditions. To help, IPM researchers have taught and tested new materials that guide growers in setting up side-by-side strip trials — three or more pairs of treated and untreated corn, each strip at least 10 feet wide, so you can do your own on-farm research.

For if good judgment is the best IPM tool a farmer has, the best place to hone it is in your own fields, under your growing conditions. There’s no better way to know which combination of best-management tactics work best in the microcosm known as your farm — regardless what a specialist or salesperson might say.

Find these new protocols and their companion data sheets on our website. (Hint: both are links to pdfs.)

Special thanks to Professor Gary Bergstrom, Field Crops Pathology Extension Program, Cornell University

May 27, 2014
by Kenneth Wise
Comments Off on Keep Records on Pests

Keep Records on Pests

They’re back! Insect pests, plant diseases, weeds, birds, biting flies — the works. And tracking them year to year is critical. How better to know your options are, this year and in years to come?

So pick up a pencil, smart phone or tablet and write them down on a field-to-field or livestock basis. Write your observations over the course of this summer — each while it’s fresh in your mind. Did potato leafhopper infestations go over threshold in alfalfa? Were corn diseases a problem? Which diseases and what hybrid were infected? Did you have corn rootworm injury? Did you lose wheat to snow mold? Were there new weeds or weed escapes you didn’t expect this year? Got more house flies on your cattle than past years? And bear in mind: cereal leaf beetle is increasing from year to year on wheat. Have you seen it yet?

These records help you better select which management practices to use now and in the future. For example, if you were hit with potato leafhoppers this season and you want to rotate your alfalfa, one management option is to use potato leafhopper-resistant alfalfa. Another example: choose wheat varieties resistant to certain diseases — based on field observations you wrote down last fall.

Likewise, if you have weed escapes you might reconsider your weed control products or even use methods like cultivation Or lots of house flies on your cattle and you sprayed could mean the flies became resistant to the insecticide.

WRITE IT DOWN! Keep records of pests you observe — and their threshold numbers. Because if you wait too long, you might forget what happened.

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