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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Plants, Pests, and Pathogens webinar available

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting in the first Plants, Pests, and Pathogens session for 2011. A webinar series produced by the NC State University Horticulture, Entomology, and Plant Pathology Departments and Plant Disease and Insect Clinic, Plants, Pests, and Pathogens (PPP) is directed to Master Gardeners and homeowner clientele.

I spoke about spotted wing drosophila (SDW) identification, biology, and management for home gardeners. It is important for SWD management to take place not only on commercial farms but also in home gardens or other unmanaged plantings. These gardens and unmanaged plantings can serve as sources of infestation for commercial growers, so we need to work together to manage this insect on landscape scale. You can find the entire recorded PPP webinar here. You can learn about upcoming PPP webinars here.

Male SWD on entering a monitoring trap. Photo: HJB

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Research stations & the budget

The NC Flue Cured Tobacco Tour at the Upper Coastal Plain Research Station, near Rocky Mount, NC. Over 120 growers, researchers, cooperative extension agents, and industry members attended the 2 day tour, which visited projects at the Upper Coastal Plain and Lower Coastal Plain (Kinston, NC) Research Stations.

We're at the beginnings of the North Carolina state budget process, but already some issues are rising to attention. The current 2011 budget from the governor proposes (among many other things) transferring the 12 North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) research stations to NC State University as well as the sale of 7 stations as surplus property. We certainly need to look at all options to economize and optimize during the current budget situation, but we also need to be careful with how we make these decisions.

Research stations have been crucial to my extension and research program. I quickly totaled the number of projects I have done on research stations in the 3 years I have been in North Carolina. From 2008 through 2011, I have had:
17 Tobacco Research Projects
3 Blueberry Projects
5 Blackberry Projects
7 Strawberry Projects

These projects have been at 10 research stations across the entire state. Just a few impacts of these projects include:
Supporting the registration of 3 new insecticides in tobacco & developing recommendations for their use in an IPM system
Discovering new information on the biology of tobacco splitworm, an emerging pest
Determining thrips biology in blackberries and tobacco
Discovery of the first reproducing spotted wing drosophila populations in the eastern US

These impacts would not have been possible without the fantastic support of the North Carolina Research Stations. Cuts are inevitable, but again, we need to be wise with the cuts. The NC Agribusiness Council has a great summary of the current status of the research station proposal.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's SWD time again!

After a quiet and cold winter, it's time again to start monitoring for spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in earnest. In contract to last year, when our goal was to detect SWD as it moved into NC, SC, and VA, this year, we will be determining when SWD is active and where it has spread. This means we need more participants in more areas. I'll be contact last year's volunteers this week, and I will be holding 3 field days between now and April to educate the public about SWD and to recruit new volunteers. These field days will be scheduled by early next week and the details will be posted here.

Looking forward to a productive field season and to learning how to manage SWD now that we have it here.

Grape Root Borer Volunteer Monitoring Network (GRB*VMN) Seeking Participants

Grape root borer (Vitacea polistiformis) adults. Photo: University of Florida
I was extremely pleased with the success of the spotted wing drosophila (SWD) volunteer monitoring network in 2010. While fielding lots of questions about grape root borer last summer, I realized that this insect would be a great fit for a volunteer monitoring program. In many ways, grape root borer is an even better candidate for a volunteer monitoring program than SWD. The adults are easy to identify, pheromone lures are reasonably specific, and there is only 1 possible generation in North Carolina.
Why do we need a monitoring network for grape root borer?
We have huge gaps in our knowledge of this pest in North Carolina. Many of these gaps stem from the fact that grape root borer has a 1-2 year life cycle (depending on temperature and location in the state), making it hard to do research on. We need to understand the extent and size of our grape root borer populations relative to our vineyards, and we need to understand the seasonal biology of grape root borer (when they begin emerge as adults and for how long this emergence lasts). Both of these needs require a large scale monitoring effort over a wide area. I cannot do this type of research by myself, but I can train interested grower and non grower volunteers to monitor a few locations in their vineyards. If we attract enough volunteers, we can build a powerful data set in 2 years that will allow us to maximize future research efforts.
If this sounds interesting, see below about how to get involved!
What is the Grape Root Borer Volunteer Monitoring Network (GRB*VMN)?
GRB*VMN is a group of North Carolina grape (muscadine and bunch grape) growers and others who are interested in increasing our understanding of grape root borer, an important insect pest of grape vines. We are recruiting volunteers from throughout the state who currently grow grapes.
Why should I join the GRB*VMN?
We will determine the presence and emergence timing of grape root borer in North Carolina grapes. This information is important for developing management programs for grape root borer. We currently only have 1 tool (a pesticide) available, and its use restrictions limit its effectiveness. We need more information about grape root borer biology to support the development and registration of more tools, including non-chemical options.
What will I get from the GRB*VMN?
You will receive:
4 GRB traps & pheromone, Training on trapping and GRB identification, Access to data from your farm and all participating farms (through this blog and regular email alerts).
What do I need to do to participate in the GRB*VMN?
You must agree to check traps weekly from May through October & enter data online. Checking traps should take no more than 1 hour per week.
More informationContact Hannah Burrack for more information on the GRB*VMN and how to get involved!

I will be at a grape field day in Surry County tomorrow (February 18th) to discuss GRB monitoring and recruiting volunteers for the GRB*VMN. See here for details and location.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

North Carolina Winegrowers Presentation and Handouts

I will be presenting at the NC Winegrowers Association's annual meeting in Greensboro, NC tomorrow morning. I'll be speaking about grape root borer (a growing concern in NC vineyards), spider mites (a potential pest), grape phylloxera (an emerging issue for hybrid grapes), harvest season insects, and our newest invasive species. I will also be discussing insect monitoring and suggested sampling programs.

Handouts for my talk as well as the slides from my presentation are linked below. As always, information presented about pesticides is intended for North Carolina growers and is subject to change. Always read and follow the pesticide label and see "a note on pesticide recommendations".

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