USDA Invests $17.7 Million in Plant Health and Production Workforce

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 54 grants totaling more than $17.7 million for plant research that helps optimize crop production, mitigate disease, and increase yield. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“Plants are the foundation of diet for both humans and animals,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is imperative to invest in research to stay ahead of the biological and environmental constraints, and develop new technologies to produce a secure, nutritious food supply for a growing population.” Continue reading

University of Kentucky resources help growers manage diseases sustainably

by Candace Pollock-Moore, Southern SARE

University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension, through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) On-Farm Research Grant, has developed a series of outreach materials for small fruit producers to aid in disease management.

“Like many diseases of small fruit, they are best managed using cultural practices, such as sanitation. Thus, we developed outreach materials to assist fruit growers with virus and disease management,” said Nicole Ward Gauthier, University of Kentucky Extension plant pathologist. Continue reading

Southern SARE Research & Education Grants Call for Proposals for FY2018 Now Open

The Southern region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program has released its Call for Proposals for the 2018 Research & Education Grants program.

This year, applicants have a choice of whether they want to submit a systems research-based pre-proposal, or an education-based pre-proposal. Education pre-proposals allow applicants to focus on educational activities, in which their cooperating partners and intended audiences would be involved. Education proposals provide a synopsis of the proposed educational approach to mitigate or solve a problem and encourage farmer adoption of recommended practices or strategies. SSARE is looking for Education pre-proposals of around $50,000.

APHIS Restricts the Entry of European Cherry Fruit Fly (Rhagoletis cerasi) Host Commodities from Canada into the United States

Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is implementing restrictions for the importation of European cherry fruit fly (ECFF) host commodities from Canada into the United States. APHIS is taking this action in response to multiple detections of ECFF in the province of Ontario, Canada.

To prevent the introduction of ECFF into the United States, APHIS is prohibiting entry of fresh fruit of the following commodities from Ontario, Canada: black cherry (Prunus serotina), mahaleb cherry (P. mahaleb), sour cherry (P. cerasus), and sweet cherry (P. avium). Wild Prunus spp. and Lonicera spp. fruits are also hosts and therefore prohibited. APHIS is also requiring that imports of these commodities from a Canadian province other than Ontario must have their origin verified.  Origin may be verified by shipping documents (such as bill of lading) or other proof of origin acceptable to APHIS. Continue reading

APHIS Extends Comment Period for Chrysanthemum Plants for Planting Pest List

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is considering removing import restrictions on chrysanthemum plants for planting. Chrysanthemums are currently regulated for Puccinia horaria, also known as chrysanthemum white rust (CWR).

To better understand which pests might enter the continental United States if we remove import restrictions on CWR hosts, APHIS has prepared a commodity pest list available for comment titled: Importations of Chrysanthemum Cuttings and In vitro Plantlets for Propagation from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Vietnam into the Continental United States. The list contains 44 U.S. quarantine pests found in 20 countries identified as potential sources of cuttings and in vitro plantlets of Chrysanthemum spp. and synonymous genera. Continue reading

APHIS Expands the Asian Citrus Psyllid (Diaphorina citri) Quarantined Area in Arizona

Effectively immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) and the Arizona citrus industry, is expanding the area quarantined for the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) to include all counties in Arizona. APHIS is taking this action in response to the ADA Director’s Administrative Order (DAO 16-01) implementing a statewide ACP quarantine.

APHIS is applying safeguarding measures on the interstate movement of regulated articles from Arizona. This action is necessary to prevent the spread of ACP to non-infested areas of the United States. The specific changes to the regulated areas in Arizona are attached and can also be found at:

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant-health/citrus-greening

APHIS will publish a notice of this change in the Federal Register.

The war on the boll weevil

by Dominic Reisig, NC State University

In NC State University News

The boll weevil (Anthonomus grandis) is not much to look at – just a grayish, little beetle with an impressively long snout. But this particular beetle, and its hunger for cotton, was powerful enough to forge an unprecedented partnership between farmers, legislators and scientists. And that partnership showed how much can be accomplished when scientists and farmers work together.

What adult boll weevils lack in size they make up for with their larvae’s ability to feed on and destroy cotton. Boll weevils entered the U.S. from Mexico in the late 1800s, when they were first spotted in Texas. By the 1920s they had spread through all of the major cotton-producing areas in the country. The scope of the damage was breathtaking, as were the control efforts thrown at this insect: at one time, one-third of the insecticide used in the U.S. was used to combat boll weevils. Continue reading