New York State IPM Program

October 17, 2018
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on Seed Selection for Resistance to Insects and Diseases

Seed Selection for Resistance to Insects and Diseases

Today’s post is authored by  Jaime Cummings, NYS IPM Field Crops and Livestock

Whether planting a home garden or a one hundred acre soybean field, it’s important to consider all the pest, weed and disease issues that may occur during the growing season.  We have many tools in the IPM toolkit to help us manage these issues, including crop rotation, hand weeding, reliance on natural predators, and use of exclusion barriers, insect traps and pesticides.  But one of the most important cultural practices everyone should consider as a first line of defense against pests and diseases is genetic resistance in the varieties you select to grow.

Selective breeding, or genetic modification, for improved harvests has been occurring since the beginning of agriculture, and all modern crops have been modified in some way from their wild ancestor plants.  Think about corn, also known as maize, as one familiar example.  All modern corn was derived from the ancestral grass called teosinte through selective breeding by our ancestors (Figure 1).  Many advancements in breeding methods and technologies have developed in recent decades, but the goal is the same:  To develop elite varieties that are well-adapted to specific regions with resistance to common diseases and pests to achieve high yields.  We now have a wide range of corn varieties and hybrids with different maturities, different colored and sized kernels, and different levels of resistance to a wide variety of pests and diseases (Figure 2).  Some modern corn hybrids even have specific traits or genes that enable them to tolerate certain herbicides or to ward off some insect pests.  All these breeding advancements have resulted in improved yields and decreased pesticide use.  And there are many other disease resistance genes that have been discovered and integrated into many corn varieties.  These too have significantly reduced farmers’ reliance on pesticides for managing diseases and the harmful mycotoxins produced by some pathogenic fungi.

Figure 1. 

Teosinte is the wild plant that all modern corn originated from 8,700 years ago.  (Image from National Geographic)

Figure 2. 

Diversity in corn varieties developed through selective breeding efforts.  (Image from USDA)

Corn is just one example among all the crops we grow with options for genetic resistance to numerous pests and diseases.  We have similar opportunities when selecting varieties for our fruits, vegetables and grains (Figures 3 and 4).  Choose wisely and consider the advantages of selecting varieties with resistance.  Many insects and diseases plague our crops that are challenging to manage, with or without the natural or synthetic pesticides used in organic or non-organic agricultural systems.  To improve your chances of success in minimizing losses, consider all the strategies of integrated pest management, starting with the seeds you select to plant.

Figure 3. 

Tomato varieties that are susceptible (left) and resistant (right) to late blight.  (Image from Cornell University, Martha Mutschler)

Figure 4.

Soybean varieties that are susceptible (left) and resistant (right) to aphids.  (Image from University of Minnesota)

Whether developed through traditional selective breeding methods or high-tech genetic engineering, all of our crops have been modified from their original form to provide us with improved feed, fiber and fuel yields.  When selecting varieties to plant in your garden or on your farm, take advantage of these breeding advancements, and consider choosing varieties with resistance to the pests and diseases that are commonly problematic in your area.  You’ll be glad you did when you have fewer bugs chomping on your crops and fewer losses to those unsightly molds and mildews.

 

Jaime Cummings

Jaime Cummings

Field Crops and Livestock IPM Coordinator

524 Bradfield Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca NY, 14853
Jaime works with growers, dairy and livestock producers, extension educators, research faculty and staff and industry counterparts to promote the adoption of IPM practices for insect, disease and weed management for all field crops and livestock. Her work includes research and educational outreach throughout New York State.

 

October 5, 2018
by Debra E. Marvin
Comments Off on “She Had a Field Day” More with New Field Crops Coordinator, Jaime Cummings

“She Had a Field Day” More with New Field Crops Coordinator, Jaime Cummings

On Thursday, September 6, forty-five farmers attended a free Corn Plot Field Day in Cochecton, N.Y., where IPM staffers Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise gave two presentations. Event sponsors included Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County (CCESC), Cochecton Mills, and Delaware Valley Farm & Garden.

Jaime Cummings, newly minted NYS Livestock and Field Crops Integrated Pest Management Coordinator, discussed two aspects of corn pests—worms and leaf diseases. A field trial tour of over a dozen varieties preceded the discussion and assessment.

Jaime Cummings

As invited speaker, Jaime came with plenty of experience, but admits that while discussing insect pests, she was particularly glad for Ken’s presence and his over twenty years with the IPM program. Three major insect pests were discussed: Western bean cutworm, corn rootworm and common army worm.

Common Armyworm Damage

The second talk centered on corn foliar diseases including gray leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, eyespot, and common rust.

Both northern corn leaf spot and gray leaf spot are present here.

Attendees learned about the biology and lifecycles of each disease and pest, and IPM management tactics. To aid identification and further understand the impacts on yields, farmers examined samples of insects and diseased leaves.

Western Bean Cutworm

Since starting her position in July, Cummings has been ‘boots on the ground’ in corn and soybean fields across the state, offering IPM options that help extension educators and farmers identify and manage diseases and pests. From rating a soybean white mold variety trial in western NY to searching for the soybean cyst nematode in central NY, and this corn field day in eastern NY, Cummings has jumped in with both feet to help NY field crop and livestock farmers.

Later this year, Jaime will be speaking at multiple events including these two CCE grower meetings: soybean white mold in Herkimer County, and soybean cyst nematode in Cayuga County.

Soybean White Mold

For more about Jaime, visit our welcome post!

To keep up with ALL aspects of the NYS IPM Program, please consider following our Facebook page  and Twitter account

September 7, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on The eat-local movement: IPM works for you…

The eat-local movement: IPM works for you…

… no matter who you are.

Eat local! For towns and cities small and large, the eat-local movement is a boon for farmers and consumers alike. You (the consumer) get your veggies fresh, while you (the farmer) can build a base of local buyers who know your products.

Tomatoes, cukes, and sweet peppers. Lettuce and spinach, arugula and swiss chard. For farmers who grow them, the season is always too short—and winter too long. Now some have adopted the high-tunnel approach to get ahead of the game.

These tomatoes are just getting traction. Next up….

Ripe local tomatoes … ready for you.

And what is a high tunnel, exactly? Uh … well, I’ll grant you there’s no “exactly” to many a thing—high tunnels included. But whatever the specifics, they have much in common. For starters, this type of greenhouse is usually a plastic covered structure with less environmental control, relying on passive ventilation for cooling.

But like everything in agriculture, high-tunnel crops have can have insect pests. Plant pathogens. Weeds.

How do we help? Let us count the ways. Crafting a solid IPM plan is a great place to start. The plan lays out practices that help prevent pests, be they diseases, weeds or insects. Choosing pest-resistant varieties helps lessens the need for pesticides. Ditto with becoming familiar with a range of biocontrols while you’re still ahead of the game. Then there’s getting the ID’s right: learning the appearance or symptoms of pests that just happen to be checking out the premises. Once you’ve nailed the IDs, it’s time to scout early and often.

Diversifying and rotating crops plays a big role too. So does getting watering, ventilation, and fertilizing down to an art—a must-do, since too much or too little of any of these can encourage those pests you are trying to control.

Next time you are buying local – ask your local farmer how they include IPM in their production.  You’ll find they are all doing their best to grow beautiful, delicious veggies for you.

Eat local!

July 10, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on New Field Crops and Livestock Coordinator Joins NYS IPM

New Field Crops and Livestock Coordinator Joins NYS IPM

Greetings!  I’m Jaime Cummings, the new Field Crops and Livestock Coordinator at NYS IPM. My job? To work with field crop and livestock farmers on more than 3 million acres statewide who grow corn, hay, and other field crops and contribute to New York’s livestock industry. These farmers know all too well the problems that come with insect, disease and weed pests—problems that can change year to year.

They need IPM. Which means that each person who lives in New York and eats or drinks anything produced on a farm also needs IPM.

Jaime Cummings

Meet Jaime Cummings. Farmers, you’ll be seeing a lot of her soon.

My background is in plant pathology, and I come from Cornell’s Field Crops Pathology program. While there I focused on field research for dealing with plant diseases and mycotoxins (aka fungal toxins). I also provided diagnostics for statewide disease surveys on all major field crops. Along the way I also earned my Certified Crop Advisor certification (CCA) for the Northeast.

Integrated Pest Management for Field Crops and Livestock

Field crop and livestock farmers in New York face problems both new and old. For starters, unpredictable weather patterns can favor a different spectrum or intensity of disease and pest problems that vary from one year to the next. Meanwhile, invasive pests of all sorts are ever knocking at our borders. It’s critical to know not only how to address each issue, but also know when it’s economically feasible and environmentally responsible to do so. IPM scouting networks and forecasting methods help us better understand pest levels. This in turn helps farmers use well-defined thresholds for making solid management decisions.

And of course, IPM works for organic and conventional farmers alike. They all know there are no silver bullets or one-size-fits-all management strategies when it comes solving disease or pest problems—which is why we need to integrate pest management strategies for the best success. Any approach to managing pests and protecting crops that minimizes health and environmental hazards by the most economical means should be thoughtfully considered and implemented.

The goal? To prevent problems in the first place. True, sometimes nature tosses us a wild card we couldn’t have guessed at. Regardless—IPM helps farmers avoid wasteful treatments while offering other options that are good both for the environment and the farmer’s bottom line.

Looking Forward

Want to learn about IPM options for your farm? Please email me at jc2246@cornell.edu.  And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to the weekly field crops pest report http://blogs.cornell.edu/ipmwpr/ to stay up to date on statewide scouting and management updates.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you and wish you a safe and productive season.

March 7, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on So many acres, so little time: IPM’s answer to where the pests are

So many acres, so little time: IPM’s answer to where the pests are

It might not look that way from your car window, but farmland covers 23 percent of New York. It’s the foundation of New York’s multi-billion-dollar agricultural economy—one that benefits all of us, no matter where we live.

Zooming out to read the report? How easy it is to forget a severe drought after a year like 2017.

Most of that cropped land? It’s in field crops: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and the like. (These crops sustain New York’s dairy industry, third in the nation.)  Scouting all that land for pests? A job for super-heroes—or lacking that, an efficient, well-designed app.

So IPM researchers built the app. Now Extension educators with their boots on the ground and a smartphone in their pocket can note hotspots for bad little buggers. Each entry helps map trends that matter: where the pests are, when they got there, and where they’re likely to show up next.

The educators’ audience? Why, farmers, of course.

True, right now the app is mainly used by educators tracking data. But the turnaround is quick, keeping farmers in the know and New York’s farm economy healthy. Think of it as scouting on steroids. Scouting is what keeps farmers abreast of what’s happening out in the field and what they can do to prevent or minimize damage (core values of IPM!). Downloading the data farmers need, then visualizing, manipulating, and editing it—that and more, this app does it all.

August 10, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Invasives IPM Update: ALB and oak wilt stand-ins

Invasives IPM Update: ALB and oak wilt stand-ins

Back in mid-July, during Invasive Species Awareness Species Week, we wrote a post using asian longhorns beetle (ALB) and oak wilt as stand-ins for the multitude of invasive species already here or knocking at our doorstep.

And we promised we’d tell you what to do should you suspect these two big-time baddies might be in the neighborhood or down the road — info you can draw from to report other invasives too.

Of course, first you have to know what the symptoms of ALB and oak wilt are. After all, an accurate ID is key to IPM. So zip over to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s website for their ALB and oak wilt info.

Killer beetle has distinctive markings. DEC tip line: 866-702-9938. Photo credit Kyle Ramirez.

You’ll learn that trees under attack by ALB often have wilted foliage and canopy dieback. But here are the main things to look for:

  • Round exit holes, ⅜” to ½” in diameter. Beginning from late July on, those mark where adults are exiting trees. Stick a pencil in there to see if the hole is at least an inch deep.
  • Round depressions — egg-laying sites, ½“ — in the outer bark.
  • Sap oozing from egg-laying sites and exit holes.
  • Sawdust (aka frass) in small mounds at the tree’s base or branch crotches.

To corroborate what you’ve seen, take pictures of the holes, including something for scale — a coin or ruler, for instance. Be sure to note the location — intersecting roads, landmarks or GPS coordinates.

Then call the ALB tip line: 866-702-9938.

You’ve got other options too, but best you go to DEC’s website for them.

On the loose and here at last. DEC tip line: 866-650-0652. Photo credit ISU.

And oak wilt? It’s scary. This killer pathogen — Ceratocystis fagacearum — can take down a red oak in as little as a few weeks. Where tree roots overlap, it can travel via those roots from one oak to the next, the next … sometimes taking down miles of forest. Then too, fungal mats from under their bark and exude a sweet odor that attracts bark or sap-feeding beetles, which carry the spores from one tree to another, another — sometimes miles away.

Put together, the red and white oak tribes include dozens of species. Many are common to the Northeast. But white oaks are luckier; years can pass before they die. Why? Mainly because the wilt doesn’t suffuse through the root systems of neighboring trees, nor does a sweet-scented spore mat form under the bark. But it kills them all the same.

Yes, it might seem odd that an organism first found in Iowa and Texas took more than 50 years to get to New York. But such is the way with nature. At any rate, it’s here now, an implacable foe — and all the lessons learned in the Midwest help bolster ours.

Our space is limited, so for now let’s just consider red oaks. Scarlet, blackjack, and pin oak belong to this clan. The main things to look for?

  • Outer leaf edges turn a tan, coppery, or reddish brown, progressing toward the mid-veins.
  • Branch dieback starts at the top of the tree’s canopy and works its way down — quickly engulfing the entire tree.
  • Leaves suddenly wilt in the spring and summer and often fall while still partly green.

Think you’ve seen oak wilt? Call 866-650-0652. If you need to prune trees —and even if you don’t — check out DEC’s two-minute video. Because regardless — this is one of those situations where citizen awareness and involvement matter. A lot. Prevention (key to IPM) and protective zones, for instance — learn more about them while you’re on DEC’s website too.

Solutions — chemical or biocontrol (especially biocontrols)? If only. But we’re just not there yet.

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.

July 11, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week all over the U.S.

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week all over the U.S.

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week — now. Pay it heed. Invasive species, it turns out, are a huge deal in the US, in New York. Everywhere, in fact.

Coping with invasive insects, pathogens and the like have cost, in the US as a whole, upward of … OK, I’m hedging already. Is it $40 billion a year? $120 billion, maybe? The estimates vary widely.

What about global losses?  Ahhhhh. Nailing those, especially vital ecosystem-regulating services, is where “difficult” morphs into “impossible,” for now and perhaps forever. It’s tricky, measuring something when it’s gone.

So what about the price here in New York? Unknown, though not for lack of trying.

Example: My admittedly quick-and-dirty search uncovered a 2005 report which  noted that costs for  eradicating Asian Long-horned beetle from New York City and Long Island had ranged between $13 and $40 million.

Killer beetle has distinctive markings. See something? Say something. Photo credit Kyle Ramirez.

Likewise in of 2005, New York spent about a half million dollars to control sea lampreys in lakes Ontario and Erie — with no end in sight.

More recently, in 2016, I learned that oak wilt — first discovered In New York in 2008 — has cost $500 grand to control. Some midwestern states spend over $1 million a year to control it. Pretty pricey if you ask me.

What helped here? Partly it’s the luck of the draw — oak wilt arrived decades ago, making inroads throughout the Midwest slowly but relentlessly. It can take time to recognize the true nature of  a pathogen — or most any invasive pest. Then it’s a catch-up game to stay on top of it. If you can.

On the loose all over the Midwest — and now here. Photo courtesy Iowa State Plant Disease Clinic.

New York saw what had happened elsewhere and has aggressively surveyed (good IPM!) and eradicated infestations quickly while still small. But that $500 grand price tag? Yow.

Still, the economic costs of losing every (yes, every) oak would far greater.

Yet to come — what to if you find Asian long-horned beetle, oak wilt, and the like.

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!

April 12, 2017
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on Earth Day. It’s Every Day. Especially for Farmers.

Earth Day. It’s Every Day. Especially for Farmers.

For farmers everywhere, but perhaps most of all for organic farmers, every day has to be Earth Day. And since what matters for farmers matters for us all, every day is Earth Day for you, me, everyone.

Take farmer Lou Lego. He earned an Excellence in IPM award earlier this year for his inspired, inventive work putting IPM into action at 100-acre Elderberry Farm and Restaurant, midway between Owasco and Skaneateles lakes in New York’s Finger Lakes Region.

Pigs on pasture cycle carbon by eating and fertilizing grasses which take up carbon dioxide and return it to the ground. Watch the video at Elderberry Farm’s Facebook page.

According to Lou, Earth Day means thinking about the future — think of it as the “every day is Earth Day” approach. One day he’s thinking about cover crops or providing for beneficial insects. On another, tillage practices — about rebuilding and nourishing the soil. Yet another, slowing or reversing wind erosion. All good IPM.

And always about slowing or reversing climate change.

Every year, Lou says (and he’s been at this a while), his soil is richer, better, healthier. Healthier soil means healthier crops. And while healthy crops can’t ensure freedom from every disease and insect pest, still — healthier soils and crops are among the IPM tactics Lou relies on, the better to cope with pests that seem bent on destruction.

For Lou, though, dealing with greenhouse gases such as atmospheric carbon — that’s the biggie.

Granted, on Elderberry Farm it’s the “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” approach. And it takes a village — no, it takes pretty much all of us — to pull off climate change. What about on Lou’s scale?  Sure, healthier soils can help. Tilling right can help. The research is coming in and yes, sustainable agricultural practices (think IPM) have a role to play.

Tall cover crops and sunflowers bordered by trees provide habitat for beneficial insects and wild bees.

And growing trees helps. Elderberry Farm’s  fields are bounded by hedgerows or orchards, trees whose leaves pull carbon out of the atmosphere. Much stays in twigs and branches, but even more gets stashed in their roots — and they keep it there for the life of the tree and beyond.

For Lou Lego — and for IPM too — short term, long term: every day is Earth Day.

Photos courtesy Lou Lego.

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