Thank you for the opportunity to present at your seminars this year. The following is a short list of some of the IPM resources I mentioned during my talk. Thanks for your interest.

Some growers tend to think of birds as chronic annoyances. Solutions range from preventative tactics (netting and birddogs) to scare tactics such as artificial predator calls and driving around the farm firing empty shells at murders – sound familiar?

But a new study suggests that certain birds can – and should – be welcomed as a part of an overall sustainable farming strategy. The link below explains:

https://wildfarmalliance.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Cascade/index.html?appid=1ed09c921c1a4e0b94d42934f87f6870

Content source: Wild Farm Alliance. We do not necessarily endorse them nor their views, but are simply providing a link to the report as ‘food for thought’.

This “CAUTION” post is similar to one I made a few weeks ago for cole crops; a quick way to highlight a potential problem, in hopes that consultants, gardeners, etc., will do some scouting to investigate if/to what extent they may be affected.

We saw, for the first time this season, some western striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma trivittatum) activity on both both weedy volunteer and cropped cucurbits.

This pest is of particular concern because it vectors bacterial wilt, a plant pathogen caused by Erwinia tracheiphila bacteria. Researchers now suspect that, rather than overwintering in the intestinal tract of adult beetles, the bacterium overwinters in the sap of alternate host plants (i.e. volunteer and weedy cucurbit species). The alternate host plants may not show symptoms of being infected, which can make management difficult.

As adult cucumber beetles feed, the beetles become infected with bacterial wilt, and then transmit it to crops. This infection can be direct (feeding on one host then another), or secondary (fecal contamination of already wounded tissue). Once the disease is established, it cannot be managed with pesticides, so ‘awareness’ of cucumber beetle activity levels, and subsequent control if necessary, is considered the best preventative tactic.

A few tips for scouting bacterial wilt in cucurbits:

    • Melons, squash, and cucumber are considered more susceptible than zucchini and watermelon, but all related plants (Cucurbitaceae) are at riska
    • Damage can occur quickly – scout 2-3X/week for beetle pressure and wilt symptoms
    • Symptoms can be immediate on some plants, and not occur until after fruiting on others
    • Leaves may look dull green, yellowing at leaf margins
    • Vines wilt during the day, but seem to recover at night
    • Quick diagnostic test (photos below): stems/vines are cut close to the crown, and a ‘stringy’ sticky substance appears when the two halves are pressed then pulled apart from each other. b

erwinia_knifecutting
1. make a clean, vertical cut close to the crown

2. push segments together then slowly pull apart

PHOTO CREDITS: Gerald Holmes, California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Bugwood.org

 

 

There is a great new eXtension article about biology and management of cucumber beetles in organic farming systems available at: https://beav.es/ZYJ (it’s ok – we’ll use a Beavs shortlink to promote WSU just this once…there’s some great people/research going on up there!)

 

aDISCLAIMER: regional differences in pathogen expression are likely, do not rely on literature from other areas
bDISCLAIMER: may not work for all species or all cases

 

(Coleoptera: Elateridae) Agriotes spp.
Adults = click beetles; Larvae = wireworms

Spring is a critical time to assess wireworm populations because when soil temperatures warm to 50°F, larvae begin to migrate up within the soil column and seek underground plant tissues to feed on. Root crops are most commonly damaged, but chewing on seeds, seedlings, and fruit also have been reported.

I am coordinating a pitfall trapping effort to determine if non-native adult click beetle species are present in western Oregon (contact me if you’d like to participate). To monitor your own fields, bait stations are recommended, because they are a better indicator of actual, larval (wireworm) pressure.

I will post a more detailed pest profile page in the coming weeks, but for now:

For more information, click the link to read a publication by Nick Andrews et. al re: Biology and Nonchemical Mgmt. in PNW potatoes.

2-may-19 update: the PEST PROFILE PAGE is ready, and has more details about how to monitor, ID, etc.

 

The definition of Precision Agriculture has evolved over 22 years and has more than a few associated acronyms (PA; SSCM=site-specific crop management; VRT=variable rate technology).

If one were to attempt to summarize the definition of PA: it involves awareness of growing conditions within a field and the use of technology as a decision support tool to maximize production efficiency while minimizing environmental impact of agricultural inputs.

We may be most familiar with PATs (Precision Agriculture Technologies) such as GPS-guided tractors or the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles AKA “drones”) as imagery sensors or product applicators. So many acronyms! Other PATs include robot weeders and mechanized transplanters.

Check out The University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics promo video:

Resources closer to home include the UAS at OSU program, and a fellow Beaver blogger who has a great annotated resource list about Drones in Agriculture here. UAVs are even being used for restoration seeding efforts in Oregon rangelands.

Perhaps you’re not quite ready for autonomous tech. One simple and easy way to jump on the PA bandwagon is to use calibration tools. These are based on mathematical models of soil and crop parameters for a specific latitude, soil type, etc.. At the click of a button, they provide output estimates to help schedule irrigation, determine fertilizer needs, or predict harvest dates. These are in addition to the MANY mobile apps now available.

Another new trend (and a way to sneak in one last acronym) is for companies to offer SaaS: Software as Service, like our friends at Valley Agronomics.

As you go about planning and planting this year, why not give these PA tools a try. The program developers are usually very receptive to comments, as it helps them improve the models, or know that they are working adequately.

DISCLAIMER: Mention or links to any of the products or services on this page do not imply endorsement.

Resources / More Info

Computerized vision robot picker view of a mapping system to identify and target specific branches. credit: F. Moore

wordcloud of IPM terms
Aspects of Integrated Pest Management

Insecticides should not be the only plan of action when trying to control insect pests. But they are also an important and valuable tool. The National Roadmap for IPM supports chemical management as an option, but a main focus is to reduce the risk of resistance that may develop when a system relies too heavily on chemical management strategies.

Active ingredients in pesticides target different aspects of an organism’s growth. So, when implementing an insecticide use plan, it is very important to try to rotate chemistries, also known as modes of action (MoA).

Familiarize yourself with pesticide ‘group numbers’, and try to make choices that AVOID repeated use of the same product or MoA group. Otherwise, you may inadvertently be contributing to insecticide resistance, which means that sprays will be less effective, wasting your time and money. Group numbers are usually shown on a product’s label.

If you want to know more about this concept, may I suggest this video and other material available from the Int’l Resistance Action Committee (IRAC-online(dot)org). Other great resources include OSU’s Integrated Plant Protection Center (IPPC) and the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).