Nine project leaders will advance IPM in nursery crops, tomato and other settings

This year, researchers will find more sustainable ways to grow southern pea, experiment with interseeding cover crops with cash crops to control glyphosate-resistant weeds, and explore ways to support nursery production and other agricultural production. Nine research and extension specialists will lead projects over the next year with funding from IPM Enhancement grants.

Researchers from the University of Georgia will establish a new IPM working group to explore sustainable production of southern pea. Also known as cowpea or black-eyed pea, southern pea is one of the most culturally significant specialty crops in the Southeast. Currently southern peas are sold fresh or frozen, but a huge threat to production is the cowpea curculio, Chalcodermus aeneas. A small weevil that is difficult to control, the curculio has caused up to 40 percent losses and has forced hundreds of southern pea farmers out of the region because of the zero tolerance for curculio damage in frozen production.

David Riley from the University of Georgia will lead a new group of researchers and extension specialists in development of a crop profile and pest management strategic plan for southern pea. These documents will incorporate perspectives from growers and processors as well as researchers and extension personnel. The final documents will include recommended management practices as well as priorities for research and extension.

Cover crops have become more widely recognized as an effective weed control and soil conditioner, in come cases increasing farm profits. To be successful, the cover crop must outgrow the weed to starve it of resources. In most cases, however, cover crops are planted after the cash crop is harvested. Depending on the growth rate of the weed, if the weed emerges before the harvest, it may be well-established before the cover crop is established. To battle weeds with early emergence times and fast growth rates. Erin Haramoto of the University of Kentucky proposes to explore the effectiveness of interseeding the cover crop with the cash crop, before harvest.

If the cover crop trial is successful, farmers will have an additional weed control tool that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.

In 2013 a new pest of bermudagrass was discovered in Texas—the bermudagrass stem maggot. This pest feeds on the stem, destroying the top of the plant and causing stunted growth. In pastures the damage has been a problem, so growers harvest the crop and apply an insecticide. However, since the pest is so new, no threshold level exists for it.

Allan Knutson of Texas A&M AgriLife and a team of researchers will develop an economic injury level by determining the relationship between maggot infestations and forage loss. Because there are no monitoring recommendations for stem maggots, either, the team will develop these to correspond with the Economic Injury Level. The new thresholds will give hay producers more guidance about when to harvest and apply insecticides following infestation.

Weed management in container nurseries is currently a costly strategy. After potting the plant and applying a preemergence herbicide, most workers don’t weed for another 6 to 8 weeks. During that time, several weeds may have emerged, causing the worker hours of hand weeding. NC State University specialist Joseph Neal proposes to teach growers a more economical way to weed that will take less time overall.

Neal proposes to train growers on the benefits of a more regular weeding schedule. Pulling weeds frequently, when they first emerge, and before they spread seeds, could reduce annual weeding costs by as much as 50 percent. Neal will train extension agents on weeding practices so they can demonstrate the practices and how they will make a difference in weeding time.

University of Georgia entomologist Michael Toews will tackle the brown marmorated stink bug issue with a Southern Region working group to complement the national working group that grew out of the Northeast. Until recently, the BMSB has been only a nuisance pest in the South, but after 2011 the pest started invading agricultural areas of warm states like Georgia. The Southern Region BMSB Working Group will examine the BMSB in relation to southern crops, climate and ecology and work with the BMSB working group in the Northeast to update hosts and distribution maps. In addition, the group will focus on developing research and extension priorities for the South.

Researchers in Florida will explore a special type of chemical control for rose rosette disease. A devastating disease with no current chemical control options, rose rosette is one of the top priorities for research in the ornamental industry. What differentiates rose rosette from any other rose disease is its impact on Knock Out roses, sold for their growing ease and hardiness.

Florida researchers will test a chemical control option that contains a Systemic Acquired Resistance Inducer, which activates the plant’s defense system. The researchers will assess how well the chemical works in protecting roses from rose rosette, along with how it will complement regular sanitation practices.

Five years ago NC State University researcher Steven Frank examined gloomy scale insect population rates on urban trees. He discovered that trees in areas that were covered with an impervious surface (e.g., pavement or concrete) over 32 percent were more likely to be stressed and insect infested. From that discovery, he and his colleagues developed a planting threshold for urban trees that recommended where and how many trees could be planted for good health.

Now the team wants to take those findings and broaden their application to other southern states. With cooperation from specialists in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, they will test whether the thresholds developed in North Carolina are applicable in other states. In addition, they will create pamphlets that explain how impervious surfaces affect trees, how to measure them and how to use the thresholds to select planting sites, and identify other tree species besides maple that might adapt to impervious surface planting.

The Southern Nursery IPM Working Group, which has already produced IPM guides for the nursery industry on trees and shrubs, is going to produce another guide this year, this time on nursery crops and landscape plantings. They plan to combine information from individual nursery crop guides that have been produced by different states into one guide for the entire southeast region. The guide will consolidate information on IPM practices and pest control product recommendations for arthropod pests, diseases and weeds. Members of the SNIPM Working Group will also coordinate comments and recommendations from crop and pest management professionals in the region.

Researchers at the University of Florida will examine sustainable ways to manage the sweet potato whitefly in tomato. They plan to test several biopesticides, along with a predator of whitefly, Dicyphus hesperus, which has not been evaluated for management of sweet potato whitefly or survival in Florida’s hot climate. Dicyphus Hesperus is currently available commercially as a whitefly predator and is well-adapted to tomato. Researchers will also survey current pest management practices of tomatoes in protected structures.

Over the next year, these research and extension teams will explore these new technologies and create resources to help growers better manage pests. The list of titles and project leaders follows.

  1. Enhancing weed management systems in container nurseries for reduced costs, Joseph Neal, NC State University
  2. Exploring critical use of a Systemic Acquired Resistance inducer against Rose Rosette disease, Mathews Paret, University of Florida
  3. Sustainable management of Bemisia tabaci biotype B on tomato in protected structures, Hugh Smith, University of Florida
  4. Southeast regional pest management guide for nursery crops and landscape plantings, Joseph Neal, NC State University
  5. Developing IPM practices for bermudagrass stem maggot in forage production, Allen Knutson, Texas A&M AgriLife
  6. Establishment of a southern region brown marmorated stink bug working group, Michael Toews, University of Georgia
  7. A new IPM working group for sustainable production of southern pea, Vigna unguiculata, in the southern region, David Riley, University of Georgia
  8. Impervious surface tree planting thresholds for the southeast, Steven Frank, NC State University
  9. Cover crop interseeding to manage herbicide-resistant weeds, Erin Haramoto, University of Kentucky

The Southern IPM Center Enhancement Grant is made possible by the USDA NIFA Crop Protection and Pest Management Regional Coordination program under agreement 2014-70006-22485.


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