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Monday, June 4, 2012

Results for multi state spotted wing drosophila project: what's next for eFLY

Female (left) and male (right) spotted wing drosophila on a raspberry at the Upper Mountain Research Station near Laurel Springs, NC. Photo: HJB
Last fall I solicited help from the readers of this blog and from small fruit growers, consumers, and researchers from throughout the eastern US to rank spotted wing drosophila (SWD) research and extension needs.  You responded in force with over 300 responses to our online and in person surveys.  A group of researchers and extension folks (include myself) used these responses to craft a multi state project, including cooperators from Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina with connections to projects in many other states, which we submitted to the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Program. We entitled our project eFLY. There is ongoing research activity in the western US on SWD, including the SWD*IPM group coordinated through Oregon State University, but we felt strongly that environmental differences in the eastern US presented very different management challenges for SWD and regionally appropriate research was crucial. This conclusion was borne out in 2011 when monitoring tools and management strategies developed in the western US did not prove effective in the southeast US and continues to be the case in 2012 as we encounter another difficult SWD management season.

Unfortunately, we recently received word last week that our project was not selected for funding. 
I don't often share the results of grants with the readers of this blog, but the feedback and participation we received from small fruit stakeholders throughout the eastern US to our request for help was so fantastic that I felt I should share the ultimate outcome with you as well.  Reviewers of our proposal cited our strong stakeholder engagement as a strength of the proposal, which is in no small part thanks to the responses we received from you to our survey.  

What does this mean for SWD research in the eastern US moving forward? 
The goal of developing a multi state project was to answer questions about SWD management and biology throughout the eastern US and to develop near-term implementable SWD management programs.  A project of this scope will be highly unlikely without funding.  A number of the scientists cooperating on this project have some regional or state support to conduct work on SWD. 

Our lab has funds from North Carolina and from the NC Blueberry Council which will support some of our work for this year and part of next summer.  The SWD*VMN will continue at least through 2012, and we hope to continue into 2013.  Beyond this, however, funding is unclear.  We will likely be seeking your feedback again for future multi state projects as well as reaching out to our state and local grower communities to understand their management needs and for continued and further support.  

Please do not hesitate to contact me for more information on SWD in the southeast.

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