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Monday, April 26, 2010

Strawberry season - fast and furious

We harvested our strawberry research plots at the Central Crops Research Station in Clayton, NC for the first time on April 24th and were amazed at how quickly the season is progressing. As the photo above illustrates, our plants are loaded with fruit, but don't have a lot of new blossoms. This means we will likely have high yields but a short picking season. This doesn't necessary bode well for our mite threshold trials, since populations just reached treatable levels last week. We will continue, however, to maintain our plants even as harvest wanes to allow for additional miticide efficacy data regardless of the length of the picking season.

We will be picking again this week, since all the white fruit above on Saturday are now ripe! You might also notice the runners appearing on the plants above. I was concerned about this over the weekend, but an update sent by Dr. Barclay Poling on Sunday helped address this concern. Dr. Poling suggested that just because plants are runnering (vegetatively growing) does not mean they are necessarily going to stop fruiting (reproductively growing). I hope this is true and we can stretch harvest out for a bit longer.

UPDATE:  We harvested again this past Thursday and Friday, and at about 4 lb on average per plot, we harvested about 272 lb of fruit.  We are collecting yield and quality (brix) data on these fruit  to correlate to mite densities and mite management regimens. Next picking: Late this week.

A busy two weeks

The last 2 weeks have been jam packed with field work, hence the light blog updating. I will have more detailed posts on several of these activities, but here's a short run down of some of what
we've been up to:

April 14: Tobacco transplant at the Cunningham Research Station, Kinston, NC. Monique Rivera, MS student, and Richard Reeves, PhD student, both have projects in this planting, and we will be comparing the potential of systemic insecticide applications to reduce foliar treatments in seed production. Seed production is one of few areas where tobacco budworms (Heliothis virescens) could significantly reduce yield. Dr. Clyde Sorenson has conducted convincing work suggesting that budworms do not reduce yield in leaf production under most circumstances.

April 19: We placed vector monitoring traps and sentinel blackberry plants at Kildeer Farms, near Kings Mountain, NC. This trial is part of a larger Specialty Crops Research Initiative project entitled Management of Virus Complexes in Rubus. The traps will be changed biweekly, and the plants will be changed monthly. By determining when plants are infected and when potential vectors are moving, we hope to narrow down the pool of potential vectors and target management practices.

Yellow sticky traps (Trece AM) and thrips traps in a Natchez blackberry planting.

Sentinel blackberry plant.

April 21 & 23: Blueberry maggot (Rhagoletis mendax) traps placed at 7 blueberry grower locations. The goal of this project is develop a baseline data set of blueberry maggot densities in key NC production areas and ultimately to reduce treatments needed for export to Canada. Canada currently regulates imported blueberries, but these regulations allow for reduced pesticide applications, provided R. mendax is not present. NCDA & CS certifies fruit for export and is also interested in our trap capture findings.

Also in April 23, we placed our first spotted wing drosophila (SWD) traps at the Castle Hayne Research Station's Ideal Tract. The rest of our traps (19 sites in NC, SC, and VA) are being sent to cooperators and will be placed this week.

An apple cider vinegar baited SWD trap at the Ideal Tract.

A yeast sugar lure baited SWD trap at the Ideal Tract.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Spotted wing drosophila trap captures increasing in Florida

The above figure illustrates spotted wing drosophila (SWD) trap captures in Florida as of April 9, 2010. The large number of flies captured this year in Hillsborough County (where there are several blueberry growers) suggests that Florida's cold winter weather did not eliminate the incipient SWD population detected last fall. The NC, SC, and VA SWD monitoring network will begin monitoring next week. We have been eagerly assembling trapping kits for our volunteers.

All our monitoring data will be collected via Google Documents and will be used to generate live updated trapping figures, which I will post on this blog. Keep your eyes peeled so we can let you know when SWD shows up here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Preparing for tobacco transplant

It has been a busy few days for the Burrack Lab. Soil insecticides and greenhouse treatments were applied at the Border Belt and Lower Coastal Plain/Cunningham Research Stations.

We will be conducting an insecticide efficacy trial against wireworm spp. at Border Belt, comparing the following treatments at several different rates/application methods:
1. Admire Pro (imidacloprid)
2. Brigadier (imidacloprid + bifenthrin)
3. Capture LFR (bifenthrin)
4. Lorsban Advanced (chlorpyriofos)

This trial will be transplanted Monday, April 12th.

Richard Reeves, PhD Student, and Anna Chapman, Research Technician, apply Admire Pro to NC 71 tobacco seedlings at the Cunningham Research Station, Kinston, NC. Photo: HJB

We have 5 different trial scheduled for Kinston this summer. These include systemic and foliar insecticide longevity trials as well as studies on tobacco splitworm biology. On Wednesday, we applied Admire Pro treatments to all of our standards and applied several rates of Admire Pro and Platinum for comparison of longevity. Many of our other treatments will be applied in transplant water, so next Wednesday's Kinston transplant date will be very busy.

Coragen now labeled for use in NC tobacco

The newest edition of the NC State Tobacco Connection Newsletter is now available. In this issue, I have 2 articles. The first discusses preplant insecticide uses and the second details the use a newly registered pesticide on tobacco, Coragen (DuPont).

Tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) is one of pests of tobacco for which Coragen is labeled. Photo: C.E. Sorenson.

Adapted from NC Tobacco Connection. 1(2): 9 April 2010
Coragen® labeled for use on NC tobacco
Coragen® insecticide (Rynaxypyr® or chlorantraniliprole), from DuPont, has recently been registered for use in tobacco in North Carolina. Coragen is the second Group 28 (ryanodine receptor inhibitor) insecticide to be registered for use in tobacco, with BeltTM (fluebendiamide, Bayer CropScience) being the first registered in the group. Both Coragen® and BeltTM act on insect muscles, resulting in feeding cessation and death.

Because Coragen®’s registration timing was unsure when the 2010 Flue Cured Tobacco Guide was produced, this article provides information on this new insecticide in comparison to our standards. You can find the supplemental label for Coragen® on tobacco: Two application methods are labeled, foliar and transplant water applications, and the rate range is 3.5 to 7.5 fl oz/acre. We have compared a range of foliar application rates of Coragen® to Tracer (spinosad, Dow AgroSciences) and BeltTM, and found them to be as effective to these materials. DuPont is recommending a rate of 5 fl oz/acre for foliar applications of Coragen®, and at this rate, this product should be at least as effective as Tracer or BeltTM¬ . We anticipate a greater degree of residual control with both BeltTM and Coragen® than we currently see with Tracer or Orthene (acephate), two of our standard foliar insecticides. We conducted longevity trials on these products in 2009, but we need at least one more year of data before we can draw conclusions. For the time being, I recommend good post treatment scouting with the anticipation that additional treatments may not be required. Good scouting is always of benefit, because in some years, no budworm treatments may be needed, and in 2009, several locations did not need to treat for hormworms because populations were late and smaller than normal. Scouting will also allow to maximize the potential savings of these products by reducing the total number of treatments if continued suppression is observed.

For growers interested in transplant water applications, DuPont is recommending 7 fl oz/acre in a minimum of 100 gallons per acre, or 2 fl oz/plant. Water volume is important, and I would not recommend using any less than 100 gal/acre for a transplant water application of this or other insecticides. Not only are smaller volumes much more difficult to calibrate, they may not adequately wet the root zone. We have included transplant water treatments of the active ingredient in Coragen® in research trials, but at a lower rate than 7 fl oz/acre. In these trials, we saw very good control with transplant applications, but again, the data are limited.

I have gotten several questions from agents and growers about transplant water tank mixes with fertilizer and other insecticides (such as Admire Pro or Platinum). I do not anticipate issues with combining Coragen® and Admire Pro or Platinum. We have combined these materials in research trials and have observed no adverse plant effects. We have not, however, combined Coragen® with a fertilizer tank mix, so although I also do not anticipate an issue with this application method, I cannot speak from firsthand experience. No matter how many research methods we come up with, growers always devise new ways to use a material, so we will be exploring some of these questions in 2010 at both grower and research station locations.

You can read the entire newsletter here: NC State Tobacco Connection Newsletter

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Now hiring -- summer research assistants needed!

Summer 2010 research assistant, Justin, near our organic aphid management trial. You, too, could spend your summer in the beautiful tobacco, blackberry, blueberry, and strawberry fields of North Carolina.

The Burrack Lab is seeking up to 2 motivated, reliable summer field assistants. These positions are a great opportunity for someone interested in applied entomology, agriculture, pest management, or field ecology. The right applicant will be enthusiastic, able to follow directions, and a team player.

Minimum requirement:
Individuals will assist with field work and data collection at various locations throughout NC. Applicants should be available Mon-Fri and have the ability to travel daily. Field work will take place in an agricultural setting where pesticides are used. Individuals must be comfortable around pesticide application and willing to wear proper personal protective equipment as deemed necessary by their supervisor. Data collection will involve following specific instruction and keeping accurate notes. Applicant must be physically fit and able to work outdoors in summer heat.

Experience or coursework in entomology a plus.

Contact Anna Chapman for further details and application procedures.

Hops projects getting started

Sue Colucci, area specialized agriculture agent based in western NC, has a great blog, which alerted me to a colleague just down the road on campus, Rob Austin. Austin, a research assistant in the NC State Soil Science Department is conducing research on hops in North Carolina. Full Steam Blog, the web presence of a brewery set to open in Durham this spring, caught Rob in the act planting his first rhizomes.

Planting hops with NC State from Fullsteam Brewery on Vimeo.

SWD training session online

I conducted a SWD training session for county agents and our trapping network volunteers this afternoon. This session covered:
1. The background of SWD in the US
2. Current research on SWD
3. Monitoring methods for NC, SC, and VA cooperators

If you are interested in seeing this training session in it's entirety, you can find it at this link. Elluminate, the software NCSU uses for webinars, will prompt you run a Java supported program in order to view the training.

The slides for this are embedded below for those of you who may be interested in a certain section but not in viewing the entire 1 hour presentation.

Ellumiate webinar: SWD information and training

Monday, April 5, 2010

A mixed forecast for NC tobacco.

NCDA & CS's forecasts for tobacco acreage are down (about 6% from last year), and this is not surprising given the uncertainty about contracts and station closings/reallocations in January and February of 2010. That said, buzz continues about tobacco's potential as a biomass source for fuel or as a biopharm crop. The demand for pharmaceutical tobacco would be much lower than the potential demand for biofuels. Dr. David Danehower, NC State Crop Sciences, has focused on tobacco's biomass potential and other value added possibilities for tobacco. Either change would certainly make for new interesting pest management questions!

SWD leaves exports in question

In a sign that the spreading spotted wing drosophila invasion may have implications beyond just pest management, Australia is beginning a risk analysis that may limit imports of US fruits. Depending on their findings, Australia may require phytosanitary measures or, in the worst case, quarantines. Regardless of the final decision, the study has delayed some fruit imports to Australia from the US for this summer.

Fruit imports from US in doubt
Biosecurity Australia Advise - Commencement of Drosophila suzukii PRA
Thanks to Max Scott for the link.

OSU website coordinates SWD information

I wanted to draw your attention to a relatively new website organized and maintained by Oregon State University entomologists which aggregates information about spotted wing drosophila (SWD). This is a great resource to see what other states and universities are doing to track and manage SWD.

Oregon State SWD Website.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Economic impact of SWD

Mark Bolda, UC Farm Adviser for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito Counties, has posted a link to a recent report authored by himself, Rachel Goodhue (UC Davis Agriculture and Resource Economics), and Frank Zalom (UC Davis Entomology) which details the potential economic impact of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) in California, Oregon, and Washington. It's worth a read in its entirety, but part of the take home message is that annual losses (based on 2008 revues) for SWD in these 3 states could top $420 million. It's also worth noting that these states have significant acreages of SWD host crops (76% of total US production by the author's estimates), so these potential losses cannot necessarily be generalized across the country. This this, however, a stark reminder that SWD has the potential to become a significant pest in small fruit production and that we need to be on top of it from detection to establishment.

Remember, SWD monitoring will begin this month. It's not too late to be involved. Contact Hannah Burrack for more details.

Further resources:
Spotted Wing Drosophila: Potential Economic Impact of a Newly Established Pest