Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise (NYS Integrated Pest Management Program), Mike Hunter, Mike Stanyard, Aaron Gabriel and Kevin Ganoe (Cornell Cooperative Extension), and Michael Dorgan (NYSDAM)
Annual funding in the Plant Protection Act 7721 supports the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) pest detection program, led by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), to safeguard against introductions of potentially harmful plant pests and diseases. These surveys ensure the early detection of potentially invasive species that could negatively impact U.S. agriculture and/or environmental resources. The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) works with APHIS to prioritize the potentially invasive species to monitor in economically important commodities in NY each year. In 2019, NYSDAM partnered with the NYS Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to coordinate a soybean CAPS survey to monitor for two potentially invasive moth species, as well as to expand monitoring of the soybean cyst nematode across New York soybean production areas.
The overarching goal of the CAPS program is to monitor for species that shouldn’t be here, and to confirm that they still aren’t in NY or even the U.S. These surveys are often the result of cooperation among state and federal employees, such as APHIS pest inspectors, NYSDAM inspectors and extension specialists. This ‘boots on the ground’ approach allows for broad coverage of the surveys across the state involving many individuals with agricultural and pest identification expertise.
For the 219 soybean CAPS survey, two moth species that are already problematic elsewhere in the world, but not known to exist in the U.S. were selected. The Golden Twin Spot moth (Chrysodeixis chalcites), which currently causes yield losses in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Canada, has a larval stage known as a ‘looper’ which can cause significant damage to soybeans, tomato, cotton, tobacco, beans and potatoes (Fig. 1). Feeding by the loopers can result in defoliation, and they can also cause foliar damage due to rolling leaves with webbing for nests. The Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma), which is already a concern in many countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, also has a caterpillar larval state that can cause significant damage to soybeans and many other agronomically important crops, including beets, cabbage, hemp, peppers, sunflower, tomato, potato, wheat, corn and wheat (and many more) (Fig. 2). These caterpillars also defoliate and harm leaves through rolling and webbing. Given how potentially damaging an introduction of these pests could be to U.S. agriculture, it’s important that we are vigilant in our efforts to monitor for them and ensure they aren’t in NY.
In addition to monitoring for these two moth species, we also prioritized a pest that has very high potential to affect soybean yields in NY, and one that has thus far only been confirmed in one field in NYS. The soybean cyst nematode (SCN) is considered the number one pest of soybeans nationally and globally, causing an estimated 109 million bushels of yield loss in the U.S. in 2017. Extensive collaborative sampling for this pest from 2014-2017, supported by the NY Corn and Soybean Growers Association and Northern NY Agricultural Development Program, was coordinated by Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension programs. Over the four years of the SCN survey, numerous fields in 17 counties were sampled, and one field in Cayuga County was identified as positive for SCN in 2016, albeit at very low levels (Fig. 3). Though it’s promising that SCN wasn’t identified widely across NY, we are fairly confident that it is very likely in many more than just one field in one county. Given the potential impact this pest could have on NY soybean (and dry bean) production, we decided to include this pest in the 2019 CAPS survey.
Six collaborators (Jaime Cummings and Ken Wise of NYS IPM, and Mike Stanyard, Mike Hunter, Aaron Gabriel and Kevin Ganoe of CCE) spent part of their typical summer soybean scouting efforts from western, to central, to eastern and northern New York setting up and checking pheromone traps intended to monitor for the Golden Twin Spot moth and Silver Y moth (Fig. 4). They communicated the importance of these surveys to cooperating farmers who agreed to host these traps in 25 fields across the state. Any suspicious moths caught in the traps are submitted to the Cornell Insect Diagnostic Clinic for thorough identification. Thus far, we have not caught any Silver Y or Golden Twin Spot moths. And that’s good news! As the growing season winds down, we will collect soil samples from the same 25 fields for SCN testing at the SCN Diagnostics laboratory.
A funding proposal to continue this work in 2020 has been submitted. If accepted, it may also be expanded to include a corn CAPS survey for other potentially invasive pests with additional locations in southwest and central NY. For more information on the national CAPS program, please visit their website. For additional information on the soybean cyst nematode, please visit the SCN Coalition website, and check out these resources on SCN efforts in NY: Soybean Cyst Nematode Now Confirmed in NY, Sudden Death Syndrome and Soybean Cyst Nematode in Soybeans, Fall is the Time to Test for Soybean Cyst Nematode.