The Great Lakes Fruit Working (GLFW) Group, funded by the North Central Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Center, was founded informally in 1998 and formally in 2006 as a way for the Great Lakes region states of Michigan and New York and the province of Ontario, Canada initially, and later Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana, to collaborate with each other. This working group shares research and extension efforts related to the promotion and adoption of IPM strategies and technologies for the region’s growers of a diversity of fruits.
One of the most-used components of the working group is the GLFW listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org), which currently has 222 subscribers and provides a year-round forum and archive for group identification of problematic orchard pests, disease and physiological disorder symptoms, and potential solutions across the Midwest and North Atlantic states.
A highlight of the year is an annual GLFW conference that draws fruit industry consultants, extension educators and researchers (entomologists, pathologists, horticulturists, agricultural economists, agricultural engineers and soil biologists) and allows members to network in person. The scale of the annual conference includes around 40 presentations, technical tours, an IPM roundtable and several posters. The conference provides a platform for multi-state collaborative research and extension activities, grant planning efforts and programmatic planning to deal with important emerging regional fruit pests such as spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink bug, fig fruit fly, and apple flea weevil. It’s also a critical opportunity for attendees to receive training in IPM practices, technologies and products that are new or recently developing. The North Central IPM Center (NCIPMC) grant offsets annual conference registration and accommodation costs, enabling increased attendance from participants including those with lower travel budgets.
The working group created an informational website which is updated and maintained continuously at http://greatlakesfruitworkers.weebly.com/. It underwent a major revamp in 2012. An abstracted compendium of the annual conference’s research and extension reports is compiled, archived, and shared on the website. Members also can share photos and videos of pests, diseases and techniques for other members to use. Another section links to the insect pest alert system.
The group converted the Tree Fruit Field Guide to Insect, Mite and Disease Pests and Natural Enemies of Eastern North America to a digital app for smart phones and tablets. This was a large scale NCIPMC-funded project requiring collecting photographs and writing text as well as outsourcing the software development. Other funds were secured to translate the guide into French for stakeholders in Canada who are native French speakers. Next the group produced an app for the Bramble Field Guide.
Another important function of the Great Lakes Fruit Working Group is keeping and updating a list of regional fruit IPM priorities and continuously delivering on-farm IPM information in the Great Lakes Region. Some of the priorities are minimizing the risk to fruit production from climate change and IPM best practices for spotted wing drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug.