Two North Central Institutions Awarded IPM Grants from NIFA

Congratulations are in order for two institutions within our north central region. This month, NIFA issued its round of grant awards that not only includes funding for the North Central IPM Center, but to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University.

University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded a three-year, $324,809 grant for a project entitled, A multi-pronged approach to controlling Sclerotinia stem rot (SSR or white mold). Sclerotinia sclerotiorumis is a fungus that can infect and survive on over 400 host species, and is a very predominant and active disease in soybean crops. Between 2010 and 2014, SSR of soybean resulted in total soybean yield losses valued at an estimated $1.2 billion in the U.S. and Canada. For perspective, the U.S. soybean crop was valued at more than $41 billion in 2013.

Considering the difficulty in controlling SSR and its impact on reducing soybean yield, a large amount of time and money in the America’s is spent on managing it. However, no one strategy can provide significant control. The goals of the project aim at creating a control method that uses integrated management strategies using modern technologies; integrate varietal resistance into and integrated management platform; and, develop outreach materials to enable farmers and practitioners to implement integrated management strategies of the fungus. Iowa State University and Michigan State University will also be contributing to the research.

Michigan State University was awarded a two-year, $199,446 grant for a project entitled, Development and demonstration of short- and long-term strategies for management of the resurgent blueberry steam gall wasp. Blueberry stem gall wasp (BSGW) is a native pest of blueberries in the eastern US, and has had a dramatic economic impact on the crop in recent years. BSGW attacks susceptible cultivars that can have very high gall densities, while other cultivars are completely resistant. Galls are formed on new shoots that reduces yield and increases contamination risk. Management of the pest with pruning is not sufficient for current BSGW population densities, meaning there is an urgent need for additional strategies.

While the long-term goal is to develop and implement an IPM program that integrates new resistant cultivars in the production system, this goal will take some time. The goal of this project is to spread understanding of insecticide-based approaches and responses to field management. Other goals include, determining pest management strategies that control BSGW, while also protecting natural enemies and pollinators; investigating the effect of bush management on BSGW infestation and yield; identifying genetic source(s) of resistance to diverse BSGW populations; and, delivering a cost-effective BSGW management programs for the US blueberry industry.

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