New York State IPM Program

January 23, 2018
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on One bug at a time: how biocontrol helps you, even in winter

One bug at a time: how biocontrol helps you, even in winter

Sure it’s winter. But many greenhouse growers work year-round. And what’s this about biocontrols? In fields, orchards, vineyards, and greenhouses—especially greenhouses—biocontrols are the predators and parasites that keep pests in check, minus the pesticides. What’s special about greenhouses? They’re where pests consistently find plenty of food, just-right temperatures, and little to stop them from bounding out of control. The linchpin that drives the search for alternatives to pesticides? Consumer demand.

Looks like sawdust—but it’s really bran infused with the tiny eggs or larvae of beneficial insects.

Which is where biocontrols fit in. These critters evolved to eat pests for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But there’s a learning curve involved. You can’t bring in the good guys and call it a day. Use a broad-spectrum pesticide and you’ll do them in. Which is why an Extension educator in the six-county New York Capitol District crafted a series of workshops to help growers get the hang of that seemingly simple IPM practice: biocontrol.

Since seeing is believing, growers attended a series of workshops where they saw start-to-finish biocontrol in action. What did they learn?

Examples

  • how to distribute marigolds throughout their greenhouses as a thrips (bad guy) magnet
  • how to apply a nematode drench to control the fungus gnats that eat roots
  • which 17 biocontrols can collectively cope with 21 bad guys
  • how the IPM Greenhouse Scout app helps you choose among them

Little sachets are another way greenhouse growers can introduce those tiny, good-guy bugs to the posies that need them.

As for consumer demand? People worry about pesticides on their posies. In theory, biocontrol appeals to them. But they haven’t seen it in action. If they see bugs, any bugs, good guys included—they might worry. That’s why a simple, colorful flier is part of the package, helping growers bring the message back to their base—their customers.

Want to learn more? Check out Extension educator Lily Calderwell’s Getting Started with Biocontrol in the Greenhouse.

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.

April 13, 2016
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on No Greenhouse, No Grow Light? This Advice Is a Fun Read Anyway

No Greenhouse, No Grow Light? This Advice Is a Fun Read Anyway

Now, I don’t have a greenhouse or even a grow light on my windowsill. But sometimes IPM ornamentals specialist Elizabeth Lamb’s  posts are so much fun to read that I just want to share them with the world.

From now on, it’s Elizabeth’s voice you’re hearing.

I just figured out how to hyperlink in my emails.  I’m quite the dinosaur!  Click on the blue words to get the link if you are a dinosaur like me.

This generalist eats more than just western flower thrips — it'll eat the thrips specialists like Neoseiulus cucumeris too. Photo courtesy natural-insect-control.com.

This generalist rove beetle eats more than just western flower thrips — it’ll eat the thrips specialists like Neoseiulus cucumeris, too. Photo courtesy natural-insect-control.com.

It’s a rove beetle eat predacious mite world out there.  Great information from Sarah Jandricic (OMAFRA) on how to keep your thrips beneficials from eating each other! Also, a little early nursery scouting might be in order – things they are already seeing in Ontario – Bagworms, Viburnum leaf beetle egg masses, and gypsy moth egg masses.

Lots of information from Tina Smith at UMass and Leanne Pundt at UConn
Keeping an eye on those calis. Calibrachoa troubleshooting for diseases and disorders. Or tackling thrips with bios and pesticides  (remember to check for NYS labels on any pesticides)  Lots of other resources linked to this report.

While you’re at it, be nice to your nematodes.   This article makes the point about not storing nematodes in a refrigerator that is opened frequently.  Another temperature shock could be mixing chilled nematodes with too warm water.  Not sure we have the research on this yet, but it makes sense.

What are those strange lumps?  It could be crown gall – found on some lobelias this spring. It is caused by a bacterium and can be spread by water splashing, although it needs an entry point to get into the plant.  No good control so add it to your scouting list.

Do you have a pH or EC (electrical conductivity) meter stashed in your greenhouse that you last used last season?  It probably needs to be recalibrated.  Have you ever done that?  Here’s how! And to keep Margery happy – lovely photos of Thielaviopsis – and how to avoid having your own.

Where have all the archived updates gone?  Well, NYS IPM is in the process of getting a new website and we consolidated all the updates into one blog to archive them  Coming soon.

’Tis the season for greenhouse information — from my email to yours.  Have a good week!

Grow greenhouse crops — or for that matter, Christmas trees? Want to learn more? Give Elizabeth Lamb a shout at Elizabeth M. Lamb <eml38@cornell.edu> and she’ll subscribe you. You can, of course, opt out anytime you want.

January 14, 2015
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on There’s an App for That: IPM’s “Greenhouse Scout” Makes “Greenhouse Grower” List

There’s an App for That: IPM’s “Greenhouse Scout” Makes “Greenhouse Grower” List

NYS IPM’s Greenhouse Scout was featured recently in Greenhouse Grower’s online e-Newsletter as one of 15 apps for 2015. Here’s why.

In the pest-friendly environment of a greenhouse, you need all the friends you can get. So more and more growers are turning to biocontrol — to using beneficial insects, mites, and fungi to control pests.

Why? Most growers want to use the fewest pesticides possible. And say you’re a pest. Becoming resistant to a critter that’s built to eat you for dinner is a lot harder than becoming resistant to a pesticide. But pesticide resistance is a growing problem.

Now your smart phone or tablet puts everything you need to know about scouting and biocontrol in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Now your smart phone or tablet puts everything you need to know about scouting and biocontrol in the palm of your hand. Literally.

Yet biocontrol is an information-dense process. You’ve got to integrate a wealth of details if it’s going to work.

Smartphone apps can help do the data-crunching for you. Which is why NYS IPM, a Cornell University program, built Greenhouse Scout, a smartphone app that brings together:

  • pest and beneficial ID and biology
  • biocontrol application technology
  • visual records of greenhouse pest populations throughout the growing season
No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

Not only that, but Greenhouse Scout lets you tweak the system to your own production requirements. And it helps even if you don’t use biocontrol yet — the interactive scouting function lets you identify locations with QR codes, then enter and graph pest numbers according to which greenhouse bench you’re scouting. No more carrying a clipboard through the greenhouse or looking for where you jotted down those sticky-card counts.

Find NYS IPM’s Greenhouse Scout at Android and iPhone app stores.

Look for this logo when you go shopping for your app.

Look for this logo when you go shopping for your app.

 

May 2, 2013
by Mary M. Woodsen
Comments Off on In Greenhouses, Good Science = Good ¢

In Greenhouses, Good Science = Good ¢

In the cold Northeast, heat costs money. And no one knows it better than greenhouse growers. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, growers are ramping up for one of their biggest sales days of year — which until now, has meant cranking up the thermostat.

 

Not any more. Growers want to save money and fuel. The unanswered question? How will pests — and the biological controls that help keep them in check — respond?

 

On the Fly: Fungus gnats look like tiny mosquitoes, but we are not their prey. These egg-laying machines just want the best possible home for their young. The problem comes when that home is a pot of pretty posies.

Take fungus gnats. These sneaky little flies lay tiny little eggs just below the soil surface. Before long their larvae are out and about, burrowing through the soil and nibbling off every growing root tip they bump up against. But if en route these fungus gnat larvae bump up against parasitic nematodes, invisible threadlike critters that eat them inside-out … well, that’s why savvy growers have turned to nematodes to even their odds in the plant-survival department.

 

Water Them In: No bigger than a deck of cards, this packet contains upward of 50 million hungry nematodes. Mix them into a tank of water, turn on the pump, open the nozzle — and water them in.

Cooler temperatures slow down both gnats and nematodes. If nematodes lag too far behind their larval prey under those conditions, we need to know. Our business, after all, is providing growers the best real-time information and guidance we can. Naturally, growers who provide real-world research settings for us are invaluable partners — because if it works for them, it’s likely to work for their peers.

 

We’ll collect lots of sticky cards over the season to help track how many fungus gnat adults squeaked past the nematodes compared to those in our control zones: the no-nematode and low-temp sectors. If our numbers come close to the numbers we got in our preliminary growth-chamber experiments earlier this year, we’ll be happy. Very happy.

See What Sticks: Bugs like yellow, which is why we use bright yellow sticky cards to monitor which critters are out and about in the greenhouse. It’s sticky work, but necessary for real-world results.

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