A new pest has been pigging out on many of North America’s most important crops, posing an unprecedented threat to U.S. farmers. The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) burst onto the scene in 2010, causing catastrophic damage in most mid-Atlantic states. Some growers of sweet corn, peppers, tomatoes, apples, and peaches reported total losses that year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has now awarded $5.7 million to ten institutions across the country for research and education to help growers cope.
The value of susceptible crops in the 33 states where BMSB has been established or sighted exceeds $21 billion, says Tracy Leskey, the USDA entomologist at the project’s helm. Last year, the pest cost apple growers alone $37 million.
Leskey’s team of 51 researchers has its work cut out: uncover the mysteries of BMSB and use that knowledge to find management tactics that work—traps and lures, biopesticides, and natural enemies that kill BMSB. The Northeastern IPM Center will coordinate outreach, putting solutions in the hands of growers who need them.
It's getting tougher all the time to be a farmer, and managers of small agricultural operations have to be increasingly efficient, clever and resourceful just to stay profitable.
But the concept of "agritainment" -- any form of farm-based tourism operation that provides economic benefit to the farm owner and offers entertainment, activities or product for the visitor -- may help farmers improve their bottom lines, according to agricultural business experts in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
"Agritainment creates the opportunity for farm owners to entice visitors to their farm, provide education about agriculture and increase their overall profits," said Lynn Kime, senior extension associate in agricultural economics. "The concept offers hope for small, struggling farms."
Have you been considering upgrading equipment in your cold storage, greenhouse, or irrigation system? Penn State Extension, in conjunction with USDA Rural Development, is now offering a program to provide low cost energy audits for farms in Pennsylvania. USDA will pay 75% of the cost of the audit, leaving a cost of only 25% to the farmer—saving you up to $1000 (or more, depending on your operation and location). The energy audit will include an easy-to-understand report that lists recommended ways to improve energy efficiency on your farm, plus information on possible funding for installing energy efficient equipment. It will be up to you to decide what to do with this information, but we will help you understand your options and see how you can upgrade your farm's energy performance. An energy audit is a required first step for many funding programs, so this is an important first step for taking advantage of a variety of energy installation programs.
Though many of us expected to find spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in Pennsylvania in 2011, the widespread occurrence and sheer numbers found during the fall in some locations were surprising. Because of high SWD infestations, some growers gave up on harvesting fall raspberries and day-neutral strawberries. The problem was probably made worse by drenching rains from Hurricanes Irene and Lee which ruined berries that were then left in the field. SWD and other vinegar flies multiplied in the unharvested fruit, which then resulted in more SWD to infest ripening fruit that otherwise could have been harvested later. Fortunately, SWD populations were relatively low this year until fall. The concern for next year is that we don’t yet know how well SWD will survive the winter here, so we don’t know how many will be present at the beginning of the growing season next spring.
In 1933 and 1934, nearly 50 million people flocked to the World’s Fair in Chicago to celebrate a “Century of Progress”. Visitors eagerly toured the agricultural building that showcased innovations and ideas for the future, like new designs for corn planters, harrows, and engines. How far have we come since then?
Researchers at Cornell University have been working on the problem of soil quality or soil health for many years, and have recently established a soil health testing program for farmers in the Northeast. This summer, two western Pennsylvania vegetable producers cooperated with me in trying out this program. Details about the testing service as well as a very comprehensive manual on all aspects of soil health can be found at http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu. (Note that Dr. Beth Gugino, lead author of this manual, is now at Penn State).
Many areas of Pennsylvania farmland have been affected by the recent flooding. Since the epic rain events much of the flood waters have receded and revealed a real headache for growers. This article summarizes information from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Texas A & M University, and Cornell University to assist in repairing fields to their original productive state.
Late summer and fall is apple harvest time. With this enjoyment of eating apples comes a new online resource about growing apples. eXtension.org, the online component of national Cooperative Extension, just added a new resource area about apple production, cultivars and rootstocks for commercial apple producers, home gardeners, nursery professionals and anyone interested in growing and eating apples.
Almost 100 crop species in the U.S. rely to some extent on honey bee pollination and the value of honey bees to U.S. agriculture is estimated to be $15 billion annually ($1.4 billion for apple). Collectively these 100 crops make up about 1/3 of the US diet and consist mainly of high-value specialty crops (i.e., fruit, vegetable and nut crops) that provide the bulk of vitamins and other nutrients that contribute to healthy diets. Honey bees are currently the most valuable pollinators in agriculture, because they are well understood, relatively easy to maintain, movable, and able to communicate rapidly the locations of new food sources. Honey bee populations, however, have declined for the past several years to the point that total reliance on them is increasingly risky. Since 2006, North American beekeepers lost approximately 1/3 of the honey bee colonies each year due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and losses at this level or higher will probably continue in the near future. These losses were in addition to declines caused by the introduction of two parasitic mite species; viral, fungal, and bacterial diseases; insecticide poisoning; and agricultural intensification of crop monocultures which have removed much of the adjacent flowering and nesting resources. Despite increased need for pollination services for crops such as the $2 billion almond industry, honey bee colonies had already declined by over 40% in the U.S. since 1947, even before CCD. Importation of bees from outside the U.S. to meet the demand for pollination began in 2005, but is a very risky solution because it greatly increases the chances of introducing new pests and pathogens to all of our bee species.
With about 4 to 5 more weeks of the current growing season to go, it is extremely important that growers continue to stay vigilant and respond immediately when the pressure from incoming brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults starts to increase. Although it varies for each cultivar, right now is the time for the use of the most effective options, with the shortest PHI. Not every orchard will need special BMSB treatments but very detailed visual observations are necessary to assess the real need for these treatments.
In July we couldn’t buy a drop of rain. August wasn’t too bad but September has been a real soaker—first Irene and then Lee. The eastern part of Pennsylvania was hit the hardest but nearly everyone had some rain from the two storms. Some growers are reporting support systems that collapsed under the weight of the tree and crop with all the rain. If you have some trees that went over and did not break off at the union you can rectify the problem but you must act fast. (The most recent weather forecast calls for the rain to finally end on Monday).
Our weekly observations revealed very high numbers of brown marmorated stink bug nymphs and adults feeding on soybean and corn plants in the vicinity of fruit orchards. Observations at older soybean plants (i.e., plants with pods and new beans), especially around field borders next to woods, revealed thousands of brown marmorated stink bug late nymphs and adults. Also, available traps and lures utilizing stink bug aggregation pheromone are capturing high numbers of all brown marmorated stink bug stages. Late season generations of codling moth represent a continuous challenge for all our fruit. Due to discrepancies observed between the predictive codling moth egg hatch model and the actual situation in the orchards, we strongly recommend the use of actual observations from an orchard as the main factor in deciding if and/or when the control measures are necessary. The Oriental fruit moth (OFM) continues to injure apple and peach fruit. Some loads of fruit were already rejected by local processors for the presence of live larvae in the fruit.
Fuel use is a difficult thing for orchardists to predict or manage, especially when you are looking at trying new planting systems or management schedules. As a result, it is tough to know in advance if various changes would pay off or not - especially in this era of high fuel costs.
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) continues to represent an unprecedented threat to our apple crop. The incessant feeding of growing nymphs and maturing adults poses a significant economic risk to maturing fruit as each probing or feeding by BMSB eventually results in a visible injury. A single BMSB adult or nymph in the orchard can potentially cause injury to many fruit. Another complicating element is the fact that fresh injuries from stink bug feeding are initially almost undetectable, but after only a few days, the injury can become very apparent. Since their actual feeding occurs under the skin of the fruit, it is only after the affected cells start drying that the symptoms of their feeding (i.e., corking) become visible (see picture). Also, since no fungal pathogens are transmitted during BMSB feeding, the affected area remains dry and no decay is observed. If BMSB feeding occurs just prior to harvest, it is quite possible that affected fruit will exhibit no visible signs of injury, but the characteristic depression on the fruit surface will develop after a period of time in storage.
The movement of summer brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults from outside hosts into orchards (or other crops) and associated deposition of new eggs slowly is becoming the most important source of new infestation in orchards. While the nymphal feeding can be reduced by effective and well-timed insecticide treatments, the feeding by continuously wandering BMSB adults is very difficult to control. With about 8 more weeks of the current growing season to go (depending on cultivar), it is extremely important that growers plan ahead with the choice of products utilized against BMSB, and preserve the most effective options, with the shortest PHI, for applications when the pressure from this pest will increase, especially in the later part of the season. The codling moth (CM) second and possibly third generation moths are actively flying in most Pennsylvania orchards. These late season generations represent a continuous challenge for all our fruit. It is still a good time to continue to control the second generations of tufted apple bud moth and obliquebanded leafroller. Although the numbers of Oriental fruit moth (OFM) observed in pheromone traps located at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center continue to remain at a low level, from now on we expect to see a continuous flight of OFM. Similarly as with the CM, please use the actual local orchard observations (e.g., pheromone trap data and/or fruit injuries from earlier generation) as the main factor deciding about the necessity for OFM control.
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) adults and all instar nymphs are present and actively feeding in both stone and pome fruit orchards and in surrounding vegetation. The codling moth (CM) second generation flight also is underway across Pennsylvania orchards. By the end of the first week of August it will again be time to start controlling the second generations of tufted apple bud moth and obliquebanded leafroller. Although the numbers of Oriental fruit moth (OFM) observed in pheromone traps located at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center continue to remain at a very low levels, from about this time of the season we should start to observe continuous flight. The pear psylla (PP) adults, eggs and nymphs are continuously present in many pear orchards, and growers should continue to apply appropriate control measures.
Now that spotted wing drosophila has been found in Pennsylvania (see news release at http://extension.psu.edu/ipm) at low populations, the question becomes what, if anything, should growers do about it? Spotted wing drosophila (SWD), a species of fruit fly, is problematic because tiny larvae or pupae of this pest can be present in the fruit when harvested, unlike immatures of other fruit flies. We really don’t know how high populations will become in Pennsylvania, but the risk to fruit crops will likely become greater as the season goes on. In other areas of the country where this pest is already well-established, fall raspberries and blackberries have probably suffered the most damage. Blueberries and summer raspberries have also had issues though to a lesser extent, and strawberries have probably been the least affected. An additional note of caution: So far in PA, most SWD were found in small fruit plantings near cherries, the crop in which SWD was first found, so growers with cherries nearby may want to be keep an eye out for SWD. Whether this is likely to be the situation in future years or not is not known. Management options will vary by crop, and are outlined below.
Over the last month, I have seen levels of apple scab that I never imagined possible in conventionally sprayed commercial orchards. As I write this, I have just returned from seeing two commercial orchards with complete control failure. In one of the blocks where I obtained samples, an entire crop of 'Fuji' is so heavily damaged that it may not be accepted for juice.
During the last few weeks of scouting orchards, we continued to find all possible forms of brown marmorated stink bug: eggs, adults (individuals from both old overwintering and new summer generations) and all various instars of nymphs. The BMSB was observed not only in stone and pome fruit orchards but also was detected on various wild plants in surrounding vegetation. As of now, we still did not see significant BMSB population build-up on agronomic crops such as soybean or corn. Fortunately, so far (July 22), our extensive BMSB monitoring activities, which include surveying of orchards and border areas around orchards did not detect any rapid movement of BMSB populations from surrounding vegetation into orchards. Although the visual monitoring still remains the best monitoring technique, finally the currently available traps and lures utilizing another stink bug (Plautia stali) aggregation pheromone started to systematically capture BMSB nymphs (no BMSB adults in traps as of now).
Energy-efficient practices on the farm bring to mind fancy new equipment like solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels. But you don’t have to jump head-first into buying the latest technology. With just a few simple changes to your operation, you can start to see real savings at the pump and on your electricity bill.
Skin damage has been a problem in packed stone fruit in some years but it has been somewhat erratic here in PA. The leading authority on skin damage in peaches and nectarines is Carlos Crisosto and his collaborators at UC Davis. They have been working on the problem going back into the early 1990s. Recently they have separated out two distinctive types of skin damages. One they call field inking and the other skin burning. The former occurs in the field and is visible at harvest. Skin burning is damage to the skin observed after packing and handling caused by a combination of pre- and/or post-harvest physical abrasion with exposure to high pH and/or high forced air cooling velocity. The latter disorder is somewhat cultivar dependant depending upon the skin phenolic composition. Unfortunately, since most of the work was done on varieties grown in California we do not know the susceptibility of the more common varieties grown in the mid-Atlantic region.
The movement of brown marmorated stink bug summer adults from outside hosts into orchards (or other crops) could now become a significant source of new infestation. Other insect pests to be monitoring are Japanese beetle, codling moth and Oriental fruit moth.
High populations of brown marmorated stink bugs (BMSB) are being observed in and around fruit orchards located mainly in the southern part of Pennsylvania. Also, during our monitoring of orchards that experienced high BMSB pressure last season, we have already detected BMSB injured fruit. It is assumed that most injuries visible to this point were caused by the feeding of the overwintering adults, although new, young 2nd and 3rd instar nymphs were also recently observed feeding on pome and stone fruit. With an extended spring emergence of BMSB adults, it will be impossible to clearly determine the current developmental phase for any particular local BMSB populations. As the season progresses, all developmental stages (i.e., eggs, nymphs and adults) will be present in the orchards at the same time. Additionally, the ability of this pest to survive and reproduce on almost all green plants in our environment, will contribute to a continuous influx of new individuals into orchards from the surrounding vegetation. If last season taught us anything about this pest, we have learned that stink bugs migrating from the surrounding vegetation can cause injuries to fruit throughout the entire season until mid-October.
This past winter at some of the fruit schools, I talked about the need to determine the nutrient status of your orchards through leaf analysis. Unlike vegetable crops, tree fruit and small fruit are not replanted every year and their roots are capable of absorbing nutrients any time the conditions are favorable. There is also a considerable amount of nutrient recycling. Nutrients in leaves that fall to the ground or brush that is cut from the trees and chopped in the orchard are recycled and made available again to the trees. Only a small portion of the nutrients are removed in the form of the fruit. Leaf analysis also can determine micronutrient levels in the tree. Soil tests for micronutrients are very difficult to validate.
Last week we observed the first brown marmorated stink bug egg masses and young nymphs in orchards, although the majority of the adults are still in surrounding areas of the orchards, feeding and reproducing on ornamental plants and woods. It appears that while the feeding on stone fruit was mostly concentrated on fruit, on apples the feeding happened mostly on foliage and growing shoots.
Natural enemies and environmental factors limit populations of insect and mite pests in natural ecosystems. When natural enemies are killed by man’s actions in any habitat or when pests are introduced to new habitats without their natural enemies, natural control often fails and results in pest outbreaks. Biological control of pest species by predators, parasitoids and pathogens has been a cornerstone of IPM since its inception. It has been difficult to utilize the full potential of biological control in tree fruit and other crops that receive periodic sprays of broadspectrum pesticides and/or have high quality standards. The best pest targets for biological control in tree fruit are generally the secondary foliage-feeding pests that do not cause direct fruit injury (i.e., mites, aphids, and leafminers). Populations of pests that feed directly on the fruit (i.e., codling moth, oriental fruit moth, and plum curculio) generally can not be tolerated at levels high enough for biological control agents to reproduce.
The insect pest control observations and recommendations presented in this update are for the south-central part of Pennsylvania based on observations in Adams County. It is important to base your integrated pest management program on scouting observations in your own orchards.
Warm temperatures (70-85 degrees F) with light rains, heavy dew, and windy weather are most conducive for bacterial spot (Xanthomonas pruni) development and spread in stone fruit. Infections occur only when the leaves are wet, and the amount of disease increases exponentially. Bacterial spot infection periods in the graph were determined using a Spectrum Weather Monitoring System and Ohio State University Bacterial Spot of Stone Fruit model, HYG-3019-95. Graphs for apple scab, cedar apple rust, and cherry leaf spot infection periods are attached. Primary scab is still active but declining.
We re-ran the carbon balance model based on the weather data and forecast for Biglerville, Pennsylvania, and it shows several windows of carbohydrate stress in May 2011 when thinning may have been very strong. Based on the forecast as of Tuesday morning, May 31, 2011, the model predicts that there will be a block of time over the next three days when fruits will be very sensitive to chemical thinning because the temperatures are so high.
As much as we do not want to admit it, the brown marmorated stink bug, (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Heteroptera-Pentatomidae) has established itself in our surroundings and most likely this insect pest will continue to pose an extremely serious threat to our agricultural systems for years to come. During the last two years researchers and extension specialists from throughout the Mid-Atlantic states have documented the enormous potential of this insect to destroy the quality of various fruits, vegetables and some agronomic crops such as soybean and corn. According to information recently gathered by Mark Seetin, the U.S. Apple Association Director of Regulatory and Industry Affairs, the estimated losses during the 2010 season for this region’s fruit growers exceeded $37 million.
Q. Is brown marmorated stink bug likely to be a problem on any of the berry crops, and if so, what materials are available to control it? (Tim Elkner, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lancaster Co.)
A. I was noticing a few brown marmorated stink bugs creep across the window as Tim was asking me this question, which wasn’t boding well. Last year, the berry crops most affected in the mid-Atlantic region were the ones that ripened later in the season after stink bug populations had increased, and I’d expect a similar seasonal effect this year as well. So, this would mean BMSB will likely inflict little or no damage on June-bearing strawberries, summer-bearing red and black raspberries, and early blueberry cultivars, and more damage on later-maturing varieties of blueberry and blackberries. Fall-harvested raspberries, blackberries, and day-neutral strawberries would be the most at risk.
Despite a relatively slow start for 2011, the degree accumulations base 43° at the Fruit Research and Extension Center (FREC) in Biglerville as well as the Penn State Research Center in Rock Spring (Centre County) are already the second highest for the last 6 years.
Expert advice, in the form of a farm energy audit, is the best method to find ways to improve your farm’s energy efficiency. Unfortunately, energy audits are often quite expensive and typically cost $1500 or more. Through the Pennsylvania Farm Energy Audits Program, USDA will offset the cost by paying 75% of the energy audit, leaving only 25% of the cost to the farmer. The audits are carried out by Penn State agricultural energy specialists or specially trained private consultants, depending on the location of the farm and availability of personnel.
Dan Ciolkosz, the Penn State Extension energy specialist who is coordinating the program, let me tag along during one of the audit visits at a tree fruit orchard operation in Adams County last month. Dan was conducting the audit along with George Hurd, the Environmental/Resource Development Extension Educator from Franklin County. We first sat down with the orchard owner and asked questions about all of the different energy sources on the farm (e.g., electricity, fuel oil, wood, diesel, etc.) and looked over the farm’s electricity bills from the last few years. The owner also shared information about his use of and plans for improving and upgrading various buildings, cold storage rooms, and a three-phase electric system installation.
Faced with uncertainty about the future of brown marmorated stink bug populations and their impact on crop production, researchers at Penn State recently launched a stink bug mapping tool in collaboration with the PA Department of Agriculture. John Tooker, assistant professor of entomology in the College of Agricultural Sciences developed the tool with Douglas Miller, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Environmental Informatics in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
The tool, housed at http://stinkbug-info.org, will help the researchers gather widespread data to study brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) population dynamics. The BMSB is an invasive pest discovered in Pennsylvania in the late 1990’s. Although native stink bug species exist in the state, they have largely had a minimal impact on crop production. However, population explosions of the BMSB in southern Pennsylvania in 2010 caught many growers off guard, leading to questions about the biology and behavior of the pest. The researchers hope statewide tracking efforts will help them develop better management recommendations, as well as warn crop growers of impending damage.
At the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, apple scab spore release is declining but still active. Apple scab, cedar apple rust, and cherry leaf spot infection periods and predictions through May 24th are attached.
Dr Alan Lakso at Cornell University has developed a carbohydrate balance model for apple, which we are testing for predicting fruit set. This model estimates carbohydrate supply and demand, and then calculates the carbon balance of the trees. During times of high supply and low demand (sunny and cool), the balance is positive and it is difficult to thin chemically. When the balance is slightly negative (0 to -20°F), chemical thinning becomes easier. When the balance drops to the range of -40°, the trees are under significant carbohydrate stress, and chemical thinning will be strong. Below -40°, the natural stress may be so severe that some fruits will be shed even when thinners aren’t used. Below -40° the response to chemical thinners is predicted to be very strong.
The insect pest control updates presented here are for the south-central part of Pennsylvania based on observations in Adams County, Pennsylvania. It is important to modify your integrated pest management practices based on scouting of your own orchard blocks.
Fruit growers report that this has been a challenging spring in terms of applying cover sprays, and now chemical thinners. Fortunately, a number of varieties were thinned last week when the temperature range was favorable. However, fruit size of some varieties was too small last week and these may still need to be thinned.
Some of you have contacted me wondering if we are still in the primary apple scab stage. There have been reports indicating that primary scab is over in neighboring states and it has also been suggested that ascospore maturation would progress much faster, and therefore terminate early in the kind of weather we are experiencing this spring. To clarify, today we counted ascospores in numbers that far exceed our monitoring threshold so we are still in the primary apple scab phase of the disease. Also, we observed the first fruits with apple scab symptoms on nontreated trees here at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center this morning.
Dr. Greg Krawczyk and Dr. Larry Hull, entomologists at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville, will be posting insect pest control updates, or "Insect Bytes" each Friday. The updates are based on observations in Adams County, Pennsylvania, and it is important to adjust the recommendations for your specific orchard conditions.
Beginning this month, graphs for percent egg hatch, or emergence, of apple pests are updated weekly at http://frec.cas.psu.edu/. In addition, to the egg hatch graphs, you will find weekly data on insect capture in pheromone traps and photos of how to identify the insects in the traps. The information is updated every Friday. The models are specific for Biglerville and should be adjusted for your region.
Q. Can you give us any tips on how to best sample strawberry leaves for a nutrient analysis, especially in the springtime on plasticulture? (paraphrased from a conversation with Tim Elkner, PSU Cooperative Extension, Lancaster County. He gets an “attaboy” for questions two months in a row!)
Just so folks are aware, we are monitoring for spotted wing drosophila in strawberries across the state. I don’t expect any large problems in this crop since strawberries ripen so early in the season, but this will alert us to any needed action before any potential problems get out of hand, and should serve as an early warning system for other crops in case the pest is present.
Angular leaf spot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas fragariae, seems to be problematic in numerous strawberry plantings this spring. This disease is favored by cold, wet conditions, so given the weather we’ve had across the state this spring, it’s no surprise that we are seeing problems. The bacteria get spread within a planting by splashing of water droplets. Needing to use overhead irrigation for frost protection can make the problem worse.
As fruit growers brace for another year of infestations by the brown marmorated stink bug, Penn State researchers have released a Web-based tool that they hope will help enhance their understanding of this invasive insect pest. Developed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the mapping tool is embedded in a website found at http://stinkbug-info.org/ online. Source: Penn State Live - http://live.psu.edu/story/53204.
The first scab symptoms at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville were observed May 2 on Rome Beauty. Based on the New Mills Apple Scab Disease Model, apple scab infection periods occurred April 1, 3-4, 10-13, 16-17, 19-20, 22-24, 28 and May 2-3. As a result of the extended wetting periods, growers who have not used a DMI fungicide on apples this season should consider using one at bloom or petal fall. Due to moderate resistance to these products, be sure to use the higher rates allowed on the label.
First bloom on apple trees at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville was April 25. Based on the MaryBlyt Prediction Program and Campbell Scientific Weather Data Systems, the risk of fire blight was severe on April 25-28.
Based on an infection model adapted from the APS Compendium of Apple and Pear Diseases, Cedar Rust Infection Periods at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center in Biglerville were April 1, 3-5, 8-13, 16-17, 19-20, 22-24, and 27-28.
Fire blight and apple scab models for locations throughout Pennsylvania are available at PA-PIPE. It is important to collect site-specific weather data in your orchards, but these models serve as a guide.
Got a question about growing small fruit? Chances are that someone else has the same question, but isn't asking! Send your question to Kathy Demchak, at 102 Tyson Bldg., University Park, PA 16802, or via email to email@example.com. You will be credited with the question, or can remain anonymous, as you wish. Today's question is about cyclamen mites on strawberries.
Pennsylvania tree fruit growers have embraced the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) since the late 1960s and early 1970s. By one definition, IPM is the “utilization of all suitable techniques and methods in as compatible manner as possible and maintains the pest populations at levels below those causing economic injury.” The goal of IPM is to minimize the number and severity of perturbations in the agro-ecosystem while reducing the economic, environmental, and human health costs associated with the particular management option(s). Pennsylvania was one of the first states in the country to adopt the principles and practices of IPM in orchards by integrating the use of the black lady beetle Stethorus punctum – commonly referred to by most growers as the “black beetle” for the biological control of spider mites (e.g., European red mite and two-spotted spider mite). This program over the last 40 years was responsible for significantly reducing the number and amount of miticides used by fruit growers and reducing the severity of miticide resistance. More recently (2004 to present), the predatory mite, Typhlodromus pyri, has replaced Stethorus in many grower orchards as the principle biological control agent for spider mites in Pennsylvania.
Sandea (halsulfuron-methyl, Gowan) has been approved for use on blueberries in Pennsylvania. Sandea has both preemergent and postemergent activity on certain weeds that can become problematic in blueberry plantings. Labeled rates are really low (1/2 to 1 oz/acre), so make sure that your application rate is correct. Be sure to follow precautions and directions on the label, and avoid contact with any green tissue.
If not taking into account the volume of rainfall we are receiving during this early part of the season, the degree-day (DD) comparison between this season and previous years suggests that DD accumulation (base 43) since January 01 is similar to DD accumulations observed during the last few years, with the exception of last season, when at this time we were already at petal fall stage on apples. Monitoring of insect pests in pheromone traps also suggests a relatively “normal” year for the development of insects.
Laboratory bioassays were conducted this winter at the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center to assess the toxicity of various insecticides against adults of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB). The results provided valuable information relative to insect management during the upcoming growing season. The biology and behavior of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB, aka Asian stink bug) present many challenges. BMSB has a plethora of available host plants and has the ability for unrestricted movement. Insect biology and monitoring issues are undefined and there is no biological control. Each instar (except eggs) can cause damage, and initial injury on fruit is inconspicuous.
Alternate management options to be investigated during the growing season include border applications, treatment of surrounding vegetation, and trap crop plantings. Research on spatial and temporal distribution will also be conducted.
This past Saturday, nearly 5 inches of rain fell around the Gettysburg area in a short period of time. One grower contacted me and was wondering about recently applied herbicides and the potential for washing the herbicide too deep. I thought this would be a good time to review some of our residual herbicides and the mobility or potential to be rendered ineffective due to rains. The table at the end of this article lists the common tree fruit residual herbicides and the tendency of them to leach or move across the soil.
Leaching is the physical process of movement of herbicides in soil water flow and is influenced by several factors, including solubility and soil adsorption. The amount of movement is influenced by the amount of herbicide in the soil, soil texture, and the extent of water movement. The amount of herbicide in the soil solution is a function of the solubility of the herbicide and strength of soil binding (adsorption). Soil adsorption is a measure of the affinity of an herbicide to soil organic matter. Herbicides that are low in solubility and have a high affinity to soil particles will be less likely to leach. Since organic matter is the most influential soil factor governing adsorption, the Koc (ml/g) of a herbicide is a very useful measure of its tendency to move with water in soil. Herbicides that are soluble with low soil adsorption are prone to leaching, including diuron, napropamide, and norflurazon. Herbicides that are low in solubility and not prone to leaching, include, trifluralin, and pendimethalin.
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time many areas were in full bloom or past full bloom on many tree fruit species. I was down at FREC the first week of April to see peaches in full bloom. At Rock Springs we had apples, peaches, and sweet cherries all come into full bloom around the 20th of April. Thankfully, this year, bloom seems to be a little bit closer to our normal time. (We will be applying our Bordeaux spray tomorrow.)
If you remember last year you will also remember that we did have some cold weather later in May around the 8th and 9th. In many cases this caused damage to the young developing fruit. Hopefully, this type of late frost/cold temperature situation will not repeat itself. The hardest hit areas seemed to be the western and northern portions of the state.
While most of you do not have provisions for frost protection, it is still useful to review temperatures that can cause damage to flowers. The table at the end of this article is from the current Tree Fruit Production Guide and can serve as a guide on what to expect should temperatures get close to freezing.
Beyond the new pesticides for berry crops mentioned in a recent Fruit Times article (Portal on low-growing berries, Altacor and Danitol on caneberries), here are a few additions. As always, the label is the law, so if there are differences between the label on the product in your possession and the information above, follow the label.
As mentioned at many of the winter meetings, we have a few new tools in our pocket for weed control. Some have similar modes of action as other established materials and others are new or more effective against certain weeds.
Years ago, we knew the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug was out there – but it still took us by surprise. Dr. Ed Rajotte, Penn State Professor of Entomology and IPM Coordinator, advises growers to not make the same mistake with the Spotted Wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii.
Alternate Bearing (AB) refers to an alternating cropping pattern that is internally regulated by the plant. This phenomenon is widespread throughout many perennial trees and shrubs, but is not universal. Perennial fruit crops initiate flower buds for next season’s crop in the current season, and for most deciduous fruit species, the alternation of large and small crops is caused by competition between the current season’s crop and the coming season’s flower buds.
Orchard owners and home gardeners looking for the best answers to their questions about apple trees soon will have free, easy access to all the information they need, thanks to a land grant university project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.