June 23, 2017

First lily leaf beetle parasitoids released in NYS

Ever notice how revolting adolescents can become beautiful adults . . .  in the insect world, of course. (And revolting is the word in this case, as the larvae cover themselves with excrement.)

However, even those beautiful Lily leaf beetle (LLB) adults have the bad habit of feeding on your lily leaves – and getting started as soon as the leaves emerge above the soil.  And they like all true lilies and fritillaria (daylilies are safe).  When the eggs hatch, the larvae join in on the feast.  In some areas, it has become almost impossible to grow lilies!

But don’t give up!  Help is on the way!  The University of Rhode Island Biocontrol Laboratory has tested several tiny wasps that lay eggs in the LLB larvae and tried them out in several New England states.  Luckily, the wasps have set up house and spread from their release sites.  It’s not a quick fix but every little bit helps.

NYS IPM’s Brian Eshenaur is coordinating a project to release the beneficial wasps around NYS (don’t worry, they don’t sting) in coordination with several county Extension offices.  The first release was this week and we are excited to learn if they parasitize the larvae and then spread.  Maybe to a lily bed near you – so you can enjoy growing lilies again.

It’s almost enough to make you appreciate those beautiful beetles . . .

(Richard A. Casagrande, University of Rhode Island, Bugwood.org)

June 13, 2017

Christmas tree IPM update 6.13.17

How did it get to be June?  No idea but it is, and it’s gorgeous out!  Will that help me get back in the swing of IPM updates – hmmmmm.

Feeling your pain – I cleaned out around my trees – miles of bedstraw and lots of goldenrod.  OK, it’s only 6 trees so I was only feeling a small amount of your pain, but the real pain that we all want to avoid is Lyme disease.  So this is really about ticks.  The perimeter area between woods and fields where the grass (and weeds) get tall is a danger zone.  That’s what we showed in our tick project last fall on Christmas tree plantations – and that’s where I was pulling weeds.  5 deer tick nymphs was the total I removed (an exercise in flexibility) – and they are the size of poppy seeds.  So be careful, do tick checks and let’s avoid the pain of tick borne diseases.  A great resource – Tick Encounter.

Paul Hetzer writes wonderful articles for the Adirondack Almanac.  I’ve attached one (below) called Handkerchiefs and Helicopters – about stress in trees, which can apply to Christmas trees in some regards, too.

An interesting answer on dew and pesticide spraying from Dan Gilrein – The answer really depends upon a couple of things. Dew can help with spreading, esp. if growers are using a mist blower or some other low-volume equipment. It can help in general if the gallonage (per acre amount of water applied) is very low and  trees have some size and lots of foliage. If the application is high-gallonage, say, with a gun, and gets the foliage very wet anyway then  best to wait until foliage is dry. Including a wetting agent in the mix can also affect performance.  In tree fruit, for example, mist blowers are used and growers sometimes include a wetting agent to move the material around better on the leaf. One can overdo it on the wetting agent rate, such that there is too much runoff. Most miticides and many fungicides benefit from higher gallonage and better coverage. So using the dew to help that with low-vol. application equipment – while avoiding excess runoff  – may not be a bad idea.  See, we do answer questions we get!

I’m late on this one – Weir’s cushion rust on Colorado blue spruce – Michigan State even links to Cornell’s page

Happy scouting out there (you are, right?) – watch the heat and the bugs – and see you pretty soon at the CTFANY meeting.

 

Helicopters and Handkerchiefs: Signs of Stress

Paul Hetzler

Here is a forecast the entire region can bank on: this spring will be characterized by pollen storms, and in a related development, it will rain helicopters this summer. Don’t panic—it has nothing to do with aircraft. It has everything to do with stress.

Short-term, moderate stress—for example an article deadline—can be a positive force because it pushes one to act. However, we have all heard about the ill health effects of undue stress: weight gain, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, difficulty concentrating, and more. We also know that other animals respond to pressure in many of the same ways humans do (although they are seldom motivated enough to meet writing deadlines).

But if you have ever wondered what stress does to trees, well, you’re in the minority, that’s for sure. This spring, though, we are all experiencing the results of tree stress in the form of high pollen loads. Most trees are wind-pollinated, which means their flowers are drab, because they merely have to attract the wind, which is way easier than attracting bees, something that requires nectar and bright colors and stuff. It also means their pollen is light, and travels far and wide. Even though it is barely noticeable, many willows, elms, maples, and poplars are in flower right now, and unless it is unusually rainy over the next few weeks, we will be breathing a lot more tree pollen than in most years.

Obviously, trees do their reproductive thing on a regular basis, or they wouldn’t still be here. Trees like willow and poplar flower every year. Others such as maple, oak and beech may produce few if any flowers for one or more years, followed by a “mast year” in which they bear a heavy seed crop. While mast years may occur once every two to seven years, 2017 is a much more uncommon situation.

This year, many hardwoods are pushing out flowers far in excess of any mast year. Heavy seed production following severe stress, known as a distress crop, is well-documented in forest stands under significant threat by pests, diseases or drought. It appears to be a bid to keep the species going at the expense of the current generation of trees. Sugar maples in particular are bearing a distress crop, something we do not generally see in the Northeast.

It is in the middle of the growing season that trees “choose,” based on how much energy they have squirreled away in the form of stored starch, how many flower buds will bloom the following year. In other words, the relative abundance of flower buds reflects the conditions of the previous summer. This makes perfect sense: a tree makes only as many seeds as its energy budget will allow. During a year with plenty of moisture and sun, it will set loads of flower buds, and in a dry year, not so many.

There is an exception to this pattern, however. A distress crop is different in that the accounting department is left out of the loop. If conditions are stressful to the point that a tree’s very survival is threatened, it gets triggered to release stored food reserves to make an ultra-heavy seed crop, even if it needs those reserves to survive the next year.

Forester Michael Snyder, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, explains it further in a 2011 article in Northern Woodlands magazine:

“Now why would a stressed tree add stress by running down its reserves that could otherwise be used for growth or to recover from the original stress? …trees need to produce seed to pass along their genes and perpetuate their kind. This is the biological imperative. It is so important that heavy seed production may be triggered in some trees as a reaction to significant, threatening stress…and they react to impending doom by shifting their precious and hard-won resources away from their own growth and focus on the next generation.”

The last time we saw a distress crop was in 2013, following the unprecedented (in terms of low soil moisture) drought of 2012. Sadly, 2016 was even worse, with soil moisture at record lows in many parts of NY State, including portions of St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties. On sites with thin soil, the effect was that much more severe. This is not to say we will lose maples and other trees showing distress crops this year, but it does indicate they are under tremendous stress, and will be more vulnerable to secondary agents such as pathogens and insects.

In 2013, we saw the spent flowers drop from sugar maples in such quantities that they filled gutters, and even clogged storm drains in some villages, leading to temporary road flooding. The mass of flowers that slid from my roof into the rain barrel in May 2013 reminded me of clots of seaweed washed up on a beach after a storm. Very likely we will have a similar performance again this year.

Again, barring a very rainy spell during maple pollination, there will be a shameless excess of helicopters this summer. For several reasons, maple seeds are of particular interest. I guess it is their aerodynamics that grab my attention. Known to botany geeks as samaras, maple seeds have a broad wing that makes them spin, helicopter-like, as they fall, prolonging their flight and allowing them to travel some distance.

In most cases it’s a one-way flight, although many children, mine included, go through a phase where they’ll scoop handfuls of these winged seeds—along with the requisite amount of dirt—and fling them aloft, delighted with their helicopters. But maybe there’s an app for that now.

In addition to the imported Norway maple, we have four native species of large maples—sugar, red, silver, and boxelder (surprise, that’s a maple)—and several understory maples as well. All of these produce helicopter seeds. One of the side effects of tree seeds is, well, baby trees. Next spring should be fun as the maple seeds germinate and a Lilliputian maple forest sprouts everywhere.

Don’t be alarmed if your maple tree browns up a bit later in the spring; that is just from the seeds maturing and drying out. Then, move over Sikorsky: it’s going to rain helicopters in northern NY. Before you break out the shop-vac and power broom, though, I recommend you get out with the kids in the non-virtual world and get a few helicopters in your hair.

March 10, 2017

Christmas tree IPM update 3.10.17

Snow 🙁   Sun 🙂   Just like life, we are getting some of each!  Pretty philosophical for a Friday afternoon!

MSU has the NEW third edition of the USDA Christmas Tree Pest Manual for sale
I’ll let you know if I figure out why theirs is $5 and Amazon has it for $29.
The previous edition is a wonderful resource and I suspect this will be, too.  I ordered mine today!

While you are there, check out their IPM Pocket Guide for Weed ID in Christmas Trees.

So – what do growing degree days mean for insect pest development in a year like this?  I’ve got that question out to some entomologists.  Do we use January 1 or March 1 as a baseline date?  This year, both would tell you you could be spraying for white pine weevil now.  Does that make sense with the temperature still bouncing around?  I don’t think so.  But you might want to be ready as soon as the weather smooths out a bit (it is spring and variation is what we expect after all).  Do I know for sure?  Nope!  But I’ll let you know what I find out.

Questions, comments, information you need?  Let me know!

March 10, 2017

Greenhouse IPM update 3.10.17

Snow again!  And since they removed the Cornus mas from outside my window, I don’t have that friendly reminder of swelling buds to tell me spring is coming.  But it is, I know it IS!

Check those fertilizer injectors!  Who wants to find out they aren’t working by having plants show symptoms – and then trying to figure out why!  Thomas Ford in eGro says from his work “75% of the fertilizer injectors employed by growers in are greenhouses are not working properly”. We’ve already heard of one case in NY. Lots of information here.

Get the key to locking out pests (my, that’s kind of a stretch but it is Friday).  Leeane Pundt at UConn has a great post on key plants and key pests to help you inspect new plant material coming in and scouting it once it’s in your greenhouse.

Another on scouting guidelines and biocontrol options for the most common insects and diseases found in greenhouse crops.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words…illustrated scouting tips for lots of crops
Ornamental crops
Vegetable bedding plants
Herb bedding plants
Herbaceous perennials
Identifying pests and beneficials on sticky cards
Go UConn!

Think (no) thrips!  UMass’ post on reviewing thrips biocontrol 

Webinars and more webinars…
Our series on high tunnel and greenhouse vegetable IPM continues to grow.  The most recent one was just posted!

OMAFRA’s greenhouse vegetable IPM specialist on Heating, Lighting and IPM
March 30, 2017
Using biofungicides, biostimulants, and biofertilizers to boost crop productivity and help manage vegetable diseases – not just greenhouse but perhaps still useful!

Bees are still in the news!  One study from England I read said that most varieties surveyed in garden centers were unattractive to pollinators (actually measuring the number of visits by pollinators at the garden center itself).  While still low, those with some notation as being friendly to bees had 4x as many visits.  Hopefully this listing would fare better –  Bee friendly trees and shrubs

Yes, but can they learn to dust?  Bees are smarter than we thought – or else maybe they are training us.  Hmmm….

Courage in the face of cold!  It will be warm again!

February 26, 2017

Greenhouse IPM Update 2.26.17

Spring?!  I know it’s not but I do like seeing that witch hazel and some snow drops blooming on campus.

And that makes me think of aphids…really?  Well, since Sarah Jandricid reports that foxglove aphids produce more offspring at 50-60F than at higher temperatures, maybe we should be thinking about them.  Especially if you had foxglove aphids last year (they are the one’s with dark green patches at the base of their ‘tailpipes’).  Go look now!

Early – that’s the key word – and here it is in Michael Brownbridge’s article Prevention and Early Intervention:  The Keys to Biocontrol Success in Greenhouse Crops published in Greenhouse Grower

More aphids?  Dan Gilrein’s e-GRO blog post on aphids and calibrachoas (aphids do seem to love them!)

Spring cleaning?  I am trying to reduce the amount of stuff in my office and house (not that you can really tell yet) but the same is true for greenhouses, and even relates to IPM.  Reducing clutter might help figure out where the pests are hiding over the winter (sneaky weeds get everywhere!).

Hooray for alliteration! Premier Tech led me to Pythium and then to Penn State – who have a lot of useful information on plant diseases I hadn’t found before.  Noodle around on the website, there are some listed by crop and other under general diseases.

And back to Pythium – Here’s Penn State’s fact sheet and the one from Premier Tech  and their list of things you can do after planting to minimize root diseases

Just in case you get tired of me telling you about Integrated Pest Management (well, how could you?), here’s the word from Van Belle Nursery with a nice video, too.

Want to read something a little edgy?  Very comprehensive article on the causes of leaf margin issues from Paul Thomas and U of Georgia.  We usually see a few of these every spring!

Wonderful wrigglers?  Not worms but nematodes – the good kind!  A nice article from UMass on using beneficial nematodes.

Boxwood blight – I don’t even have to add the alliteration.  The original article and one where you can see the pictures (which are from Margery Daughtrey!).

Back to bee basics.  Grow wise Bee Smart  BMP’s for bee health in horticulture
http://growwise.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/HRI-Pollinator-BMPs-January2017.pdf

Rent a chicken?  There are a few chicken owners I know but they haven’t capitalized on their bug eating habits yet (that I know off) for greenhouses.

Wow, a lot to cover today!   Must be because it is spring!

Have a great week!