Mature fields of grain crops moving in the wind is a lovely sight. Having admired the beauty of ‘cereal rye’ in a field, I asked NYSIPM Integrated Weed Management Specialist Dr. Bryan Brown if rye has been part of successful weed suppression efforts.
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!
(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.
Douglas-fir Christmas Tree Farm
May 8, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #5 Pollinator Habitat, and NEWA
Dwindling bee numbers is a problem. The question is not should we protect pollinators and create habitat, but how? What’s the best method? The most economical? The best bee habitats—made up of plants of varying sizes and bloom times—are easy on the eye. They’re also excellent real estate for other helpers, like spiders and certain beetles, that eat pests. So can pollinator habitats provide biocontrol benefits too?
To answer these questions, our team set up pollinator habitat plots around our Christmas tree research planting—testing establishment methods, evaluating weeds, counting and identifying the insects attracted, and studying the biocontrol value to the trees.
ABOVE: Flowers providing pollen or nectar are important to both pollinators and many pest-eating “beneficial” insects. You can help them by choosing a variety of plants that bloom from early spring through late fall with flowers of diverse shapes. This Echinacea makes pollen and nectar readily accessible to both small and large bees, proving that it’s not just their beauty that’s worthy of our admiration.
Wildflower and grass species favored by pollinators were chosen from lists of native perennials. Some started from seed; others were transplants. By the end of the first season, natural enemies and pollinators had arrived—including lady beetles, lacewings, predatory stink bugs, spiders, hoverflies, predatory beetles, butterflies, and many wild bees. This year the plots have matured even more. We collected flying insects with sweep nets, counted butterflies, and caught wasps and bees in brightly colored bowls of soapy water. We even had a method for catching insects moving along the ground.
So far, we have lots of tips for helping growers and gardeners create their own beneficial insect habitat. As to fewer pests in Christmas trees? Time will tell.
What’s New with NEWA?
Are summer conditions becoming more unpredictable? Are you wondering how to make informed and timely decisions about pest management? If you say yes to both, you’re not alone. NEWA, the Network for Environment and Weather Applications, is here to help by providing live, on-farm decision support for fruit, vegetable, and field crops production. NEWA pairs real-time weather data from growers’ fields with online crop-specific pest forecasting. And it’s growing every year.
Developed by scientists with pest biology expertise, NEWA models predict disease progression, insect infestations, and crop phenology. Apple growers rely on apple scab forecasts in the spring, grape growers monitor grape berry moth risk through the summer, and field corn growers track western bean cutworm flights throughout the season to know when to scout.
Our latest survey proves NEWA’s unparalleled decision support to growers is working. Users attest they saved over $4,000 in spray costs and more than $33,000 in prevented crop losses annually.
NEWA partners with extension, industry, and academic partners statewide, including the Lake Erie Regional Grape Program that supports western New York’s Concord grape growers. Thanks to the close collaboration between NYSIPM, growers, and processors, that region benefited from the addition of 11 weather stations last year, a move that nearly doubled their decision-making power. NEWA also joined forces with the NYS Mesonet at the University at Albany, a collaboration that resulted in ten pilot locations across the state.
Today NEWA offers 42 models using data from 677 weather stations in 14 states. NEWA and NYSIPM support agriculture throughout New York and beyond. The latest forecast? The future looks bright.
An Onset Weather Station
May 1, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Our 2018-2019 Annual Report: #4 In the Weeds and For the Birds
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.
(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.
(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
March 27, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Highlights from the Northeast Mechanical Weed Control Expo
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.
(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.
(above) HAK showcased a new cultivating tractor with sweeps (left), finger weeders (center), and tines for the wheel tracks (right).
(above) Steketee brought their Crumbler Rotors (left), finger weeders (center), and side knives (right).
(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.
(above) Tilmor also demonstrated a walk-behind tractor with a potential “stacked” cultivation setup.
(above) Jen Goff, from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, showcased several innovative wheel hoes and hand tools.
(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.
(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!
March 6, 2020
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on Soybean Disease Workshop at Cayuga County ‘Shop Meeting’
Soybean Disease Identification, Expansion of Soilborne Soybean Diseases and the Soybean Cyst Nematode in NYS, and Considerations for Soybean Seed Treatment Options for these Threats
Cayuga County CCE specialist Ron Kuck held a shop meeting at Dumond’s farm in Union Springs on February 19th. Jaime Cummings, Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator at NYSIPM shared information on how to correctly identify, differentiate and manage soybean diseases, which seed treatments are most beneficial and cost-effective for soybeans in NY, and how to deal with the new soybean cyst nematode now that it’s been confirmed more widely in NY.
A good turnout on February 19 for a Cayuga County Shop Meeting. Growers concerned with soybean diseases heard the latest from NYSIPM’s Jaime Cummings.
Participants took a pre-workshop quiz to gauge their knowledge of the subject, and a post-workshop quiz to see how much they learned. And, they learned a lot! The average quiz rating before the workshop was 57%, and was 87% after. This means a 30% knowledge gain regarding when and which management methods are most effective for each soybean disease, including when pesticides are not the best option, and how to incorporate integrated pest management options for minimizing losses to the soybean cyst nematode.
Soybean Sudden Death (SDS) Foliar Symptoms
Ron Kuck received positive feedback from a number of participants, who each said that they appreciated the workshop and Jaime’s expertise and enthusiasm on the subject matter.
About 35 farmers and agriculture professionals attended February’s Shop Meeting in Union Springs, NY.
Symptoms of Northern stem canker on soybean.
Thank you to all who coordinated and attended this successful event.
On February 5th and 6th, Bryan Brown and Jaime Cummings of the NYSIPM Program presented their latest findings to the farmers, agricultural consultants and agribusiness associates attending the Soybean and Small Grains Congress meetings in Batavia, NY and Waterloo, NY.
Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator Jaime Cummings
This event was sponsored by the Northwest Dairy, livestock and Field Crops Team, an outstanding regional agriculture program from Cornell Cooperative Extension serving a nine-county region in western New York. The team’s specialists work together with Cornell faculty and extension educators statewide to provide service to the farms large and small whether dairy, livestock, hay, corn, wheat or soybean focused. They are part of the Cornell CALS’ Pro-Dairy program outreach.
Caption: NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team counties
On Wednesday, February 5th, the meeting took place in Batavia. Besides NYSIPM staff, presenters included Mike Stanyard (CCE NYNY Team), Dennis Pennington (Small Grains Specialist from Michigan State University), Gary Bergstrom (Cornell University Plant Pathologist), Jodi Putnam (Field Crops Specialist from CCE), Mike Helms (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University), and Dan Wixted, (Pesticide Management Education Program, Cornell University). With such experienced trainers as these, attendees heard valuable information that will serve them well once the 2020 field season begins.
Bryan Brown shared his recent research trial on managing waterhemp in soybeans. Effective Programs for Controlling Waterhemp in Soybeans
Dr. Bryan Brown speaks about his work reducing weeds in soybeans.
Jaime Cummings presented her research survey results on biocontrol use of a parasitoid on the cereal leaf beetle. Cereal Leaf Beetle: History, Biology, Management and Biocontrol
On Thursday, February 6th, the same team of presenters spoke to an audience in Waterloo, NY.
Congratulations Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock & Field CropsTeam. Their educational programs and individual assistance cover a wide area of best management practices and as well as dairy farm business. For dairy farms, a bilingual dairy specialist provides producers with employee training and human resource facilitation in Spanish. Educational and support venues range from on individual farm management team meetings and troubleshooting to multi-day classroom and hands-on training and from ongoing farmer group discussion meetings to thematic day long symposia.
As to the success of this year’s S&SG Congress? Mike Stanyard shared this: I want to thank all of you for making the 2020 S&SG Congresses a success! It was a very well-rounded program and I have received plenty of comments about the quality of the presentations. I know the growers took home some very valuable information.
Mike Stanyard (Ph.D.) CCE, NWNY Dairy, Livestock & Field Crops Team
Photos: Ken Wise
December 31, 2019
by Joellen Lampman Comments Off on NYS IPM’s Best of 2019
“None of us is as smart as all of us.” –Ken Blanchard
Each year, NYS IPM staff are busy blogging about relevant topics. Here’s a recap of some of our more popular 2019 offerings:
ThinkIPM is our catchall blog and a great way to keep a pulse on what’s happening in New York State IPM.
No one wants to find an embedded tick.
We have spent a lot of time in the past year talking about how to prevent tick bites, from dressing in long pants, using repellents, and conducting daily tick checks. But sometimes one gets past you and you discover that new lump behind your knee has legs. There are always question about what to do next, and Help! I found a tick on me! was the most popular 2019 blog post.
Spotted lanternfly distribution map as of November 2019
Spotted lanternfly was also on your mind, and Traveling for the Holidays? provided a checklist for those traveling within the spotted lanternfly quarantine zone. Trust us when we say that you do not want to unintentionally transport Spotted Lanternfly egg masses in New York state.
Other IPM Blogs – Besides ThinkIPM, we have more dedicated blogs, and you don’t need to be a specialist to subscribe to them. Here are some of the more popular posts:
The most popular Biocontrol Bytes offering was a guest post from our collegues in the Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science, section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, Anna Wallis, Kerik Cox, and Mei-Wah Cho. They discussed moving beyond antibiotics to the use of biopesticides in the post, Battling Fire Blight with Biologicals.
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.
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).”
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.
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.
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.
Thank you, NY Farm Viability Institute
July 16, 2019
by Debra E. Marvin Comments Off on 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, 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. 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.”