Webinar: Rufus Isaacs to Present about Gall Wasp in Highbush Blueberries

On Wednesday, April 21, the next Pests and Progress webinar will feature Rufus Isaacs, Professor and Extension Specialist from Michigan State University. Isaacs will discuss the challenge of avoiding insect damage while producing high quality blueberry crops. Diverse IPM practices are useful to protect against insects, such as blueberry maggot, fruitworms and Japanese beetle, but the arrival of spotted-wing Drosophila required alterations to the established IPM practices. More recently, the native blueberry stem gall wasp has become more plentiful and more challenging to manage. Isaacs will discuss the process and progress of finding IPM solutions to blueberry stem gall wasp management. Make plans to join us on Wednesday at 1:30 EDT (12:30 CDT). You must register to receive the link to this free online presentation.

The March Pests and Progress webinar featured Rob Morrison, Research Entomologist

With USDA-ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research. The recording is available on the North Central IPM YouTube Channel.

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Virtual Crop Scouting School Now Available from Crop Protection Network

The 2021 Virtual Crop Scout School is now available and is free to the general public. The scout school consists of 22 webinars from crop protection specialists at eleven Midwest Universities and is offered through the Crop Protection Network (CPN).

Crop scouts, farmers, and other users can pick and choose from a variety of diverse subjects to become more knowledgeable on crop scouting. Topics are split into digestible sections so users can focus their time on topics that fit their needs. 

Crop scouting in an important part of integrated pest management (IPM) that helps farmers obtain higher yields and increased profit per acre. Scouting gives farmers and agronomists a “heads-up” about what is happening in the field, allowing preemptive action and appropriate management decisions to be applied.

Scouting crop fields on a regular basis can help to determine emerging crop problems and helps to inform management decisions. Image by Brandon Kleinke.
Scouting crop fields on a regular basis can help to determine emerging crop problems and helps to inform management decisions. Image by Brandon Kleinke.

“The Virtual Crop Scout School is coming on the heels of a web book on crop scouting released by CPN earlier this year,” said Daren Mueller, Extension associate professor at Iowa State University. “Crop scouting can do a lot to bring greater yields to farmers’ fields.”

The CPN has partnered with universities all over the Midwest to make these webinars a reality. This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management Program through the North Central IPM Center (2018-70006-28883).

The CPN is a multi-state and international partnership of university and provincial Extension specialists, and public and private professionals that provides unbiased, research-based information. The Network’s goal is to communicate relevant information to farmers and agricultural personnel to help with decisions related to protecting field crops.

Access the Crop Scout School here.

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Honeybear Brands Honored for Collaborative Pest Management Efforts

Honeybear Brands, a company that grows, packages and distributes apples in the Upper Midwest, is being recognized by the International IPM Symposium for work promoting safe, effective, sustainable pest management.

Honeybear Brands has been selected to receive an IPM Team Award for its success in implementing the TruEarth Certification program. Honeybear Brands growers adopted the standards over 10 years ago and have successfully reduced pesticide use, which has also lowered production risks related to pesticide use.

The IPM Team Awards are given to teams that:

  • Collaborate to use IPM to reduce risks (human or animal) from pests
  • Emply teamwork across stakeholder groups, pests, commodities, systems and disciplines
  • Improve economic benefits related to IPM adoption
  • Minimize environmental and natural resources effects

Honeybear Brands deserves this award for setting high standards and then making the changes needed to demonstrate that reducing pesticide use is an attainable goal ,” said Dr. Shakunthala Nair, co-chair of the Awards Committee. “We are pleased to honor Honeybear Brands for leading by example, and we hope to see other companies strive to meet the TruEarth Certification standards.”

As part of the certification program standards, Honeybear Brands growers commit to active pest management efforts, including scouting throughout the season. Thresholds are used to decide when treatment is needed, and high-risk pesticides are avoided. Growers benefit by staying up to date on the latest research. They also receive materials related to risk management as well as information about how to manage apple pests, from rodents to insects to disease.

The careful planning and implementation of the certification standards has allowed Honeybear Brands to lead the industry with increased transparency in pesticide use throughout the supply chain. This transparency makes it possible to use the Pesticide Risk Tool to analyze pesticide risks so high and moderate risks can be reduced. Thus, the practices are reviewed annually, and improvements are made for the following year.

The TruEarth program adopted by Honeybear Brands includes sustainable production practices that even go beyond IPM to include pollinator preservation, soil and water conservation, energy and waste management and grower education.

The International IPM Symposium is organized every three years, and attendees from around the world share their expertise, network with colleagues and learn the latest research and technologies for effectively managing pests.

The theme for 2022 is, “Implementing IPM across Borders and Disciplines,” and the event will be held in March of 2022. 

For a full list of award winners, see the IPM Symposium website.

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Thomas A. Green Receives Lifetime Achievement Honor for Commitment to IPM

Dr. Thomas A. Green from the IPM Institute of North America, Inc, has been selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement award from the International IPM Symposium for promoting Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and sustainability for more than 30 years.

The Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded to individuals who have dedicated their careers to IPM. This award can be achieved by individuals who have:

  • At least 20 years of experience in IPM
  • Enhanced IPM through team building with various stakeholder groups
  • Addressed issues across pests, commodities, systems, and disciplines.

“We are delighted to honor Dr. Green with this prestigious award that recognizes his experience and dedication to IPM,” said Dr. Shakunthala Nair, co-chair of the Awards Committee. “We hope his work inspires others to continue to build on his legacy.”

Green is being honored for his consistent dedication to IPM efforts. Over the years, Green has created four successful startups with goals related to IPM product supply, consulting, risk management and certification and standards development. Green directed the Entomological Foundation from 2009 to 2015 and also served as vice-president and president from 2011 to 2014. He was awarded the Entomological Foundation’s Metal of Honor in 2015. Green earned his Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Massachusetts. Since then, he has written or coauthored over 100 publications and has shared his expertise by presenting at over 250 professional and industry events. Green is a Certified Crop Advisor, an NRCS-Certified Technical Service Provider and has been a member of the Entomological Society since 1983.

In 1998, Green cofounded the IPM Institute of North America with the goal of using the power of the marketplace to increase adoption of IPM and other best practices. As president of the Institute, Green has worked with his team on more than thirty projects to support IPM practices in agriculture, schools, workplaces and homes. Specifically, these efforts help consumers understand food production and pesticide use as well as helping companies to mitigate pesticide-related risks in the supply chain. Green supported the IPM STAR certification for schools and childcare facilities, which includes an on-site evaluation to look for pests and provide pest management advice, if needed. The Institute also offers Green Shield Certification to pest management professionals who want to use sustainable options in their pest management businesses.

Green’s focus on market-based mechanisms to promote IPM led to the creation of Whole Foods Market Responsibly Grown Program, which encouraged updates throughout the supply chain, from agricultural fields all the way to distributers and retailers. While this specific program has ended, many of the practices it promoted continue. Green has also collaborated with Red Tomato on the Northeast Eco Apple Project and with the North Central School IPM Working Group.

The International IPM Symposium is organized every three years, and attendees from around the world share their expertise, network with colleagues and learn the latest research and technologies for effectively managing pests.

The theme for 2022 is, “Implementing IPM across Borders and Disciplines,” and the event will be held in March of 2022. 

For a full list of award winners, see the IPM Symposium website.

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Grower Survey to Assess Herbicide Drift Damage in the North Central United States

Is herbicide drift a problem? Please share your thoughts and experiences with the Herbicide Drift Risk Management Working Group. Your feedback will provide details on the frequency, severity, and economic impact of herbicide drift on specialty crops.

Input is needed from growers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in the upper Midwest, especially growers who have experienced drift damage, growers who have concerns around this issue, and even growers who have not dealt with drift but who grow sensitive crops in drift-prone regions. Survey responses are expected to help establish herbicide drift as a serious economic and regulatory concern in the North Central United States.

Growers may complete the survey at go.osu.edu/drift44

Who should take this survey? 

The study is for commercial growers of fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Even if you have never experienced herbicide damage, your feedback is important if you grow specialty crops in one of these states. 

Why is this survey necessary? 

Dicamba and 2,4-D drift damage has made headlines in recent years, but no study to-date has attempted to quantify the overall impact drift has on the specialty crop industry. While all states have a way for growers to file a drift complaint, the process and requirements are inconsistent and may involve time and information that a grower does not have. In most states, for instance, the source of the drift must be identified. Research has found that dicamba and 2,4-D both have the potential to travel for miles in specific weather conditions, making source identification difficult.

What good will this survey do? 

This study is designed to assess the potential and actual frequency of drift damage, along with the severity and economic impact of such damage. The survey includes questions on grower awareness, experience, actions, and decisions related to herbicide drift and drift-risk management. The responses will help establish needs for research on drift mechanisms, prevention, and remediation; and/or the need to review current policy and reporting requirements. 

How long will it take? 

The survey takes 5-20 minutes to complete, depending on your experience with drift damage. 

How will this data be shared? 

Summarized survey data will be shared broadly with regulatory agencies, university educators and researchers, agricultural policy makers, grower support organizations, and the general public using news articles, report summaries, and peer-reviewed journal articles. While this study is administered by The Ohio State University, it was planned in partnership with industry experts across the region who will assist with sharing results. Participants may also request a copy of the study summary. 

How will my data be used and protected?

Your privacy is important. No individual survey data will be released or shared beyond the limited group of project staff. The survey questions and procedures have been reviewed by the institutional review board at The Ohio State University and are designed to protect your data and identity. Additional details on privacy and confidentiality are provided at the beginning of the survey. 

How can I learn more? 

The North Central IPM Center’s Herbicide Drift Risk Management Working Group created a series of fact sheets on herbicide drift especially for specialty crop growers. The series includes: Overview of Dicamba and 2,4-D Drift Issues, Frequently Asked Questions, Preparing for Drift Damage, and Responding to Drift Damage. Fact sheets and more information about our special project group and study are available at go.osu.edu/ipm-drift.

This study is facilitated by The Ohio State University and is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through agreement 2018-70006-28884. This study is being conducted in cooperation with regional universities and non-profit grower organizations.

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NCIPMC Webinar Launches Wednesday

Tune in Wednesday for the North Central IPM Center’s first Pests and Progress Webinar featuring Research Entomologist Dr. Rob Morrison from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Center for Grain and Animal Health Research. Morrison will discuss the use of long-lasting insecticide-incorporated netting as an alternative approach to insect control for stored food products. Register now to receive the link to join.

Webinars will be held the third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm Central Daylight Time (1:30 pm Eastern), and topics will include updates on the latest research related to IPM.

More details are available on the Pests and Progress Webinar page.

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Job Opening: Director for the Western IPM Center

The Western IPM Center is hiring a new director to provide vision and leadership while managing staff and Center operations. The director will collaborate with local, state, regional and national partners to promote integrated pest management (IPM) and the Center.

The successful candidate will have knowledge of IPM as it relates to agriculture, conservation and the public; excellent leadership and management skills; a minimum of a Master’s Degree and at least four years of experience in a management or leadership role. Experience working with agriculture in the western United States or working with federal grants is preferred.

The application deadline is April 18, 2021. More details can be found on the University of California Job Board.

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Job Opening: Evaluation Specialist

The NSF Center for Integrated Pest Management at North Carolina State University is hiring an evaluation specialist to support integrated pest management (IPM) and biosecurity efforts. This position is collaborative; the successful candidate will work with local, regional, national and international stakeholders.

Responsibilities will include promoting use of IPM in the South, and this role also includes a focus on evaluation: providing advice on evaluation, looking for additional opportunities to evaluate efforts and providing training on evaluation methods.

More details can be found on the North Carolina State University job board.

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Recent Funding Opportunities – Quick Summary

Smith-Lever Special Needs Competitive Grants Program

The purpose of the Smith-Lever Special Needs grant program is to support scientific programs that support public needs to help before, during and after emergency situations.

Offered by: USDA NIFA
Deadline: Thursday, February 25, 2021
Who May Apply: Applications may be submitted with the approval of Extension Directors of 1862 Land-grant Institutions in the 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Percent of Applications Funded: 80%
Award Potential: $0 to $150,000
More details are available here.

Methyl Bromide Transition Program

The Methyl Bromide Transition Program supports commercial-scale research on methods, technologies, systems and strategies for controlling pests that have been successfully managed with methyl bromide. Outreach efforts that will support adoption should be included in proposed projects.

Offered by: USDA NIFA
Deadline: Thursday, February 25, 2021
Who May Apply: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Other or Additional Information (See below), Private Institutions of Higher Ed, State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed
Percent of Applications Funded: 33%
Award Potential: $0 to $500,000
More details are available here.

Crop Protection and Pest Management

The Crop Protection and Pest Management program funds efforts to solve challenges related to managing pests at any level: state, regional or national. Projects should seek to improve management and control while using integrated, diverse strategies.
Offered by: USDA NIFA
Deadline: Monday, March 15, 2021
Who May Apply: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Other or Additional Information (see full description for details)
Percent of Applications Funded: Unknown
Award Potential: $200,000 to $900,000
More details are available here.

Supplemental and Alternative Crops (SAC)

The Supplemental and Alternative Crops grant opportunity funds projects that support canola grown for oil and industrial hemp grown for value added products.

Offered by USDA NIFA
Deadline: Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Who May Apply: Applications may only be submitted by colleges and universities, other federal agencies and private sector entities

Percent of Applications Funded: 50%
Award Potential: $0 to $225,000
More details are available here.

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Overseas Laboratories Critical to Biological Control of Invasive Pests like Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

By Tim Widmer, National Program Leader-Plant Diseases, USDA ARS 

The study and control of the exotic brown marmorated stink bug is a prime example of how international collaborative efforts lead to solutions to invasive pests. A natural enemy of the stink bug was identified at an overseas biological control laboratory (OBCL), which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Hatching brown marmorated stink bugs with eggs.
Hatching brown marmorated stink bugs with eggs. Photo by Gary Bernon.

The OBCL facilities provide a year-round base for studying invasive pests in their native ranges and discovering natural enemies that potentially can be introduced safely into the United States. As a leader in invasive species research, ARS has established OBCLs through cooperative agreements with Argentina, Australia, China, and Greece. In addition, ARS owns and operates the European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) in France. These overseas laboratories collaborate with and contribute to the goals of ARS labs in the United States to protect U.S. agriculture.

The brown marmorated stink bug is particularly devastating because it feeds on a wide variety of different host plants of economic and landscape value.  In the mid-Atlantic region, some apple and peach growers reported total losses.  In addition, it is a nuisance as it invades homes in large numbers to shelter for the winter.

Adult brown marmorated stink bugs on Asian pear.
Adult brown marmorated stink bugs on Asian pear. Photo by Gary Bernon.

To find a solution to the brown marmorated stink bug, scientists at the ARS lab in Newark, Delaware, began exploring in Asia with the assistance of researchers at the OBCL facility in China.  This resulted in the identification of an important parasitoid wasp species that was attacking brown marmorated stink bug eggs in their native Asian range. This discovery led to further taxonomic study of the parasitoid wasps, revealing that their current scientific name was not valid. The name was corrected, an important step, because precise identities are required in biological control for insight into the biological features and adaptive evolution of invasive agricultural pests.

International collaboration continued as molecular studies of the Asian collections of this parasitoid wasp were conducted at the EBCL in France. Interestingly, populations of this gnat-sized wasp have been found in the United States, although it is not known how they arrived. The molecular characterization initially conducted at EBCL confirmed there are three genetically distinct groups present in the United States, all of which are different from the Asian parasitoid wasps brought in for evaluation. Fortunately, these U.S. parasitoid populations are well established, and researchers soon should have the opportunity to assess their impacts. Because these parasitoid wasp populations are already established in the United States, some states have already permitted redistribution of existing populations as a management option for the stink bug.

Surveys to identify natural enemies of the brown marmorated stink bug are complete, but work continues to determine which ones will be most effective. In addition, the OBCLs and the EBCL continue to lead ARS searches for new biological control agents for other invasive pests, such as spotted wing drosophila, spotted lanternfly, and roseau cane scale, in their native ranges.

If you would like more information on the OBCLs or information about how to begin a collaborative effort, please refer to the ARS OBCL website for details.

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