Agronomy
Nematodes are pests that you need to keep an eye on in order to ensure the productivity of market garden crops. Several species are considered parasites of fruits and vegetables. Various types of nematicides have been used in the past to eliminate and/or control the spread of nematodes. Since the 1970s, these nematicides have been phased out of commercial use. The last fumigant nematicide was withdrawn over the last five years. Over time, it became apparent that they were not safe for users or for the environment.

Consequently, it became important to develop alternative nematode control methods for producers of market garden crops. The researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guy Bélair (retired) and Benjamin Mimee (a nematologist currently working in this field), are dedicated to the development of nematode control methods, for example through integrated pest management measures. This approach relies on a combination of cultural methods used in conjunction to reduce the density of nematodes in fields in order to minimize crop damage.

The research experiments conducted by Mr. Bélair provided conclusive results concerning the most effective integrated pest management methods, in particular against endoparasitic nematodes. Because this type of nematode is an internal plant parasite, it prevents the plant from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, which are necessary for optimal plant growth. This class of nematodes causes the greatest economic damage. There are three species of endoparasitic nematodes: the root-knot nematode, the lesion nematode, and the stem and bulb nematode.

According to researcher Bélair, the following is a summary of the most important facts to remember in integrated pest management.

Root-knot nematode
Learn more about it: Eggs are laid outside the root in a gelatinous mass. The second-stage larva (or infectious larva) is the only stage found in the soil. All the other stages are inside the root. Abundant rootlets (hairy roots) and whitish nodules on the rootlets. In carrot, significant deformation of the primary root. Complete development cycle: four to six weeks.

Main market garden crops affected: carrot, celery, lettuce, tomato, potato, leek, Brassicaceae (broccoli, cabbage, turnip) and Cucurbitaceae (melon, cucumber).

Best practice: To effectively and significantly reduce root-knot nematode populations, practise crop rotation with a grain at least every three to four years, since this type of nematode does not attack any grains. If the infestation is too heavy, two years of grains may be necessary. One year of onion followed by one year of grain has proven to be very effective in controlling nematode populations and increasing carrot yields by more than 50 per cent the following year.

Other integrated pest management approaches:
  • Fast-growing crops (spinach, radish): control by trapping, since the harvest will have taken place before the nematode has had time to multiply in the roots.
  • Weed control on the edges and in the fields since weeds are excellent host plants for this nematode.
  • Oriental mustard seed-based organic product registered in Canada for strawberry and cranberry.
Lesion nematode
Learn more about it: All the stages of development except the egg can infect a root and are found in the soil. The entire development cycle takes place inside the root. By moving within the root, the nematode causes injuries or lesions, allowing certain pathogenic fungi to enter the plants. Complete development cycle: Four to six weeks.

Main crops affected: potato, legumes, grains (rye, barley, oat, wheat), market garden crops.

Best practice: A rotation with forage pearl millet reduces populations to below the damage threshold for several crops (potato, strawberry, raspberry, corn, apple tree, soybean). Sow millet in early June since it prefers a hot climate. If sown too early in the spring in wet, cool soil, it will not germinate well and will be quickly invaded and smothered by the growth of annual grasses.

Based on our research between 2000 and 2006, we can conclude that, for potato, this type of rotation increased yields by 15 per cent to 35 per cent, depending on the density of the initial lesion nematode population.

Other integrated pest management approaches:
  • Weed control on the edges and in the fields since weeds are excellent host plants.
  • Oriental mustard seed-based organic product.
  • Manure- and/or compost-based soil amendments.
  • Green manures from crucifers with high glucosinolate contents (including brown mustard).
Stem and bulb nematode
Learn more about it: Unlike the other nematodes, this nematode does not affect the roots, but only the above-ground part of the plants (the stems). This endoparasitic nematode causes very significant damage in garlic crops. Through cryptobiosis (dehydration and dormancy), this nematode can survive in a field for four to five years without the presence of host plants. It is spread through contaminated plants and seeds.

Our greenhouse trials demonstrated that this nematode reproduces well on garlic and onion, poorly on potato, and not at all on corn, soybean, barley, alfalfa, mustard, carrot and lettuce.

Main market garden crops affected:
Bulb race: garlic, onion, pea, strawberry, sugar beet.
Oat race: rye, corn and oat, and most grains.
Best practice: For producers, it is essential to use clean, i.e. nematode-free, plants or seeds.

Other integrated pest management approaches:
  • Based on genetic analyses of specimens from Quebec and Ontario, we can conclude that it is the same race. The integrated pest management methods used in Ontario can therefore also be used in Quebec.
  • Garlic: hot water treatment to kill nematodes present in the cloves (study under way with agrologists from MAPAQ).
Plant in nematode-free soil. A rotation of four to five years without host plants is a good method for getting rid of stem and bulb nematodes.

Key discoveries (benefits):
  • Since the 1970s, many nematicides used to control nematodes have been phased out of commercial use. It became important to develop alternative nematode control methods for producers of market garden crops.
  • Guy Bélair, a researcher at the Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu R&D Centre, has studied the most effective integrated pest management methods against endoparasitic nematodes, those that cause the most economic damage. These nematodes are internal plant parasites which prevent the plant from absorbing water and nutrients from the soil, necessary for optimal plant growth.
  • This article presents a summary of the most effective integrated pest management practices for the three species of endoparasitic nematodes, i.e. the root-knot nematode, the lesion nematode, and the stem and bulb nematode.
Published in Vegetables
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency recently announced that it will be cancelling the use of the group M3 chemicals mancozeb and metiram in a wide range of crops, including field tomatoes.

In 2020 products like Manzate, Penncozeb, Dithane and Polyram will no longer be available for sale and in 2021 use will be banned completely. This will ultimately have an effect on how we control diseases, including anthracnose, early blight and, most importantly, late blight. Although mancozeb is currently an important player in fungicide programs, tomato growers do have other options available.

For best control it is always good to start with preventative or protectant fungicides once environmental conditions are conducive to disease development and before symptoms appear. | READ MORE
Published in Diseases
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of minor use label expansion registrations for Venture L Herbicide for control of labeled weeds on rhubarb, the bulb onion subgroup 3-07A, green onions, caneberries subgroup 13-07A and lettuce in Canada.

Venture L Herbicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several weeds.

These minor use projects were submitted by Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada, Pest Management Centre (AAFC-PMC) as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel. | READ MORE
Published in Weeds
A group of fungi might fight a disease that’s dangerous to tomatoes and specialty crops. University of Florida scientists hope to develop this biological strategy as they add to growers’ tools to help control Fusarium wilt.

Using a $770,000, three-year grant from the USDA, Gary Vallad, associate professor of plant pathology, hopes to harness the advantages of fungi known as trichoderma to fight Fusarium wilt.

Vallad will work on the project with Seogchan Kang, Beth Gugino and Terrence Bell from the department of plant pathology and environmental microbiology at Pennsylvania State University and Priscila Chaverri from the department of plant science and landscape architecture at the University of Maryland.

Scientists hope to use trichoderma to supplement various pest-management methods to help control Fusarium wilt, Vallad said.

Trichoderma are ubiquitous fungi in soil and on plants, and they have been used in agriculture as biological control agents, he said.

UF/IFAS researchers have used trichoderma to try to control pathogens, but with little to no success. With this new round of research, they hope to understand what factors limit the fungus’ benefits as a biological control agent, Vallad said. That way, they hope to develop ways to increase its ability to control Fusarium wilt.

Growers began using other fumigants as methyl bromide was gradually phased out from 2005 until it was completely phased out of use in 2012, Vallad said. As growers tried various ways to control diseases, including alternative fumigants, they saw a re-emergence in soil-borne pathogens and pests on many specialty crops, including tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, watermelon, cantaloupes and strawberries, Vallad said.

When the project starts July 1, UF/IFAS researchers will do most of their experiments on trichoderma at the GCREC, but they’ll also use crops from commercial farmers during the project.

Vallad emphasizes that their research goes beyond Florida’s borders. Studies in Pennsylvania and Maryland will likely focus on small to medium-sized farm operations.

“We are focusing on tomato production Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania,” he said. “We hope that our findings will help improve management of Fusarium wilt with trichoderma-based biological control agents.”
Published in Research
If you were going to tank mix chemical pesticides, you would of course read the label to check for compatibility before mixing products.

The same concept applies when using living organisms for pest control. Whether you are using parasitoid wasps, predatory mites, microorganisms, or nematodes, you need to know whether your biocontrols are compatible with each other and any other pest management products you plan to use.

For example, a biocontrol fungus might be killed if you tank mix it with (or apply it just before) a chemical fungicide. Insecticides (whether or not they are biological) could be harmful to natural enemy insects and mites. Even some beneficial insects are not compatible with each other because they may eat each other instead of (or in addition to) the pest. | READ MORE 
Published in Insects
With an increase in precision agriculture and more closely monitored in-season crop fertilizer applications, we’ve also seen an increased interest in plant tissue testing. But, before you begin sampling in the field this season, do what you can to ensure you’re getting the best sample and making the most from your time spent.

“It’s very important to take a plant tissue sample from the correct plant part,” says Dr. Jim Friedericks, outreach and education advisor for AgSource Laboratories. “For example, to have the earliest effect on this growing season, corn plants should be in the 8-leaf to 12-leaf stage, soybean plants can be submitted from 4-inches to 8-inches tall and alfalfa from 6-inches to first flowering.” These results can then be used to fine-tune an expected side-dress application or for a “rescue” nutrient application for the current crop.

The results from plant tissue samples are typically reported in comparison to the range of nutrient concentrations sufficient for that plant at that growth stage. Because these ranges shift with the growth of the plant it is important to identify the growth stage when submitting a plant sample to the laboratory. It’s normal for crop nutrient levels to vary throughout the season, therefore it’s important for these nutrients to be available when the crop needs them.

Alternatively, taking plant tissue samples multiple times throughout the growth cycle reveals the seasonal trends of your crop, and differences in your individual fields. Reports from these frequent plant tissue samples can be used to make corrections or additional nutrient applications as long as your field equipment makes it feasible to spray the canopy or dribble nutrients onto the soil surface.

Plant tissue sampling provides a picture of the nutritional status of your crops. Combined with a soil testing program, you can build a 360° view of your fields and crops to make better management decisions that could drive higher yields and reduce input costs throughout the growing season.

Plant tissue testing is also helpful when checking for suspected nutrient deficiencies. Often, a common visual sign of a macronutrient deficiency can be mistaken for what is actually micronutrient deficiency. One example is molybdenum (Mo), which is required for nodule formation in nitrogen fixing crops. What visually appears as nitrogen deficiency in alfalfa may in fact be inadequate supply of molybdenum.

While creating your plant tissue sampling plan, keep these points in mind:
  • Sample your fields using appropriate zones. Pull plant/leaf samples from the same variety or hybrid. One sample = one variety or hybrid = one zone
  • Combine with a soil sample. Consider a routine soil sample that includes nitrate in the analysis. Pull this sample in the same location as your plant tissue sample. This approach can determine the soil’s ability to supply nutrients in the growing season and identify confounding problems such as low soil pH.
  • Avoid trouble spots. Stay away from sampling close to field boundaries or gravel roads, or visually damaged field zones. Trouble spots should be a separate sample.
  • Collect the proper plant part and amounts. Collect 15 to 20 leaves, or at least half a paper lunch bag full, and choose mature leaves from the middle or upper part of the plant. Never send bottom leaves or immature leaves. Consult a sampling guide for more specific instructions.
  • If the leaves are contaminated with soil rinse them briefly under a stream of distilled water and allow to air dry.
  • Consistency is key in plant tissue sampling. Pull samples at the same time of day throughout the season.
  • Handle the samples properly. Label your sample bags, make sure the labels match your submittal forms and send them promptly. Pack the shipping box loosely to include some air space. If possible, collect and ship the samples the same day. If not, store samples in a refrigerator.
“Shipping and handling is critical. When samples are shipped wet and in plastic bags, we end up with moldy tissue. We can’t test moldy samples and growers end up having to go back out to the fields and resample,” notes Friedericks. “For best results, use a paper bag and ship dry samples. We hate having to call clients to tell them their samples have to be tossed.”
Published in Vegetables
Heads up veggie growers: New pest threats!

We have a couple of new pests threatening to descend on Nova Scotian vegetable fields. Perennia, in conjunction with AAFC and the NSDA is setting out some pheromone traps for Leek Moth and Swede Midge.

Check out our YouTube videos on how to set out a pheromone trap.
Published in Vegetables
Using tunnels to provide a more consistent environment for raspberries and strawberries has been employed around the world, but less so in North America. Kathy Demchak from the Department of Plant Science at Penn State University has surveyed growers and conducted research on the use of tunnels in growing fresh-market strawberries and raspberries to help growers determine if the option is viable in their own field.
Published in Fruit
Drip irrigation is no longer the ‘new kid on the block,’ and nearly 10 per cent of U.S. farms rely on it to grow their crops. Each year, new growers dabble with drip and many learn by trial and error. Reaching out with some helpful tips to those growers is Inge Bisconer, technical marketing and sales manager for Toro Micro-Irrigation.
Published in Irrigating
When humans get bacterial infections, we reach for antibiotics to make us feel better faster. It’s the same with many economically important crops. For decades, farmers have been spraying streptomycin on apple and pear trees to kill the bacteria that cause fire blight, a serious disease that costs over $100 million annually in the United States alone.

But just like in human medicine, the bacteria that cause fire blight are becoming increasingly resistant to streptomycin. Farmers are turning to new antibiotics, but it’s widely acknowledged that it’s only a matter of time before bacteria become resistant to any new chemical. That’s why a group of scientists from the University of Illinois and Nanjing Agricultural University in China are studying two new antibiotics—kasugamycin and blasticidin S—while there’s still time.

“Kasugamycin has been proven effective against this bacterium on apples and pears, but we didn’t know what the mechanism was. We wanted to see exactly how it’s killing the bacteria. If bacteria develop resistance later on, we will know more about how to attack the problem,” says Youfu Zhao, associate professor of plant pathology in the Department of Crop Sciences at U of I, and co-author on a new study published in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions.

The bacterium that causes fire blight, Erwinia amylovora, is a relative of E. coli, a frequently tested model system for antibiotic sensitivity and resistance. Studies in E. coli have shown that kasugamycin and blasticidin S both enter bacterial cells through two transporters spanning the cell membrane. These ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters are known as oligopeptide permease and dipeptide permease, or Opp and Dpp for short.

The transporters normally ferry small proteins from one side of the membrane to the other, but the antibiotics can hijack Opp and Dpp to get inside. Once inside the cell, the antibiotics attack a critical gene, ksgA, which leads to the bacterium’s death.

Zhao and his team wanted to know if the same process was occurring in Erwinia amylovora.

They created mutant strains of the bacterium with dysfunctional Opp and Dpp transporters, and exposed them to kasugamycin and blasticidin S.

The researchers found that the mutant strains were resistant to the antibiotics, suggesting that Opp and Dpp were the gatekeepers in Erwinia amylovora, too.

Zhao and his team also found a gene, RcsB, that regulates Opp and Dpp expression. “If there is higher expression under nutrient limited conditions, that means antibiotics can be transported really fast and kill the bacteria very efficiently,” he says.

The researchers have more work ahead of them to determine how Opp/Dpp and RcsB could be manipulated in Erwinia amylovora to make it even more sensitive to the new antibiotics, but Zhao is optimistic.

“By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms of resistance, we can develop methods to prevent it. In the future, we could possibly change the formula of kasugamycin so that it can transport efficiently into bacteria and kill it even at low concentrations,” he says. “We need to understand it before it happens.”

The article, “Loss-of-function mutations in the Dpp and Opp permeases render Erwinia amylovora resistant to kasugamycin and blasticidin S,” is published in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions [DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-01-18-0007-R]. Additional authors include Yixin Ge, Jae Hoon Lee, and Baishi Hu. The work was supported by a grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Published in Research
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently released its final decision on the future use of chlorothalonil, a fungicide used in agriculture including fruit and vegetable production.

“Under the authority of the Pest Control Products Act, the PMRA has determined that continued registration of products containing chlorothalonil is acceptable,” the report states.

“An evaluation of available scientific information found that most uses of chlorothalonil products meet current standards for protection of human health or the environment when used according to the conditions of registration, which include required amendments to label directions.”

Even so, some changes have been made to the chlorothalonil label, including cancellation of its use on greenhouse cut flowers, greenhouse pachysandra, and field grown roses (for cut flowers). As well, all chlorothalonil products currently registered as dry flowable or water dispersible granules must be packaged in water-soluble packaging. Buffer zones have also been revised and a vegetative filter strip is required.

You can review the decision and new label requirements by clicking here.
Published in Insects
Comparison of fungicide programs:

In 2016 and 2017, Cheryl Trueman compared several different cucumber downy mildew control programs in plots at the University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus.

Different product rotations included:
  • Bravo-only applied 6 times.
  • A high input strategy that focused on optimal control and resistance management: Orondis Ultra A+B; Torrent; Zampro; Orondis Ultra A+B; Torrent; Zampro.
  • A low-input strategy that focused on early control and resistance management, switching to lower-cost fungicides in the final weeks of harvest: Orondis Ultra A + B (plus Bravo); Torrent; Zampro; Bravo; Bravo; Bravo.
  • A single application of Orondis Ultra, applied early followed by the other targeted downy mildew fungicides (Orondis Ultra A + B; Torrent ; Zampro; Torrent; Zampro; Torrent).
  • Control – no fungicides applied.
Results indicate that the highest level of control was achieved using a high input three product rotation of Orondis Ultra A+B, Torrent and Zampro when downy mildew pressure was high in 2016.

Under these conditions final yields for both the high input and single Orondis Ultra (in rotation) were both significantly higher than the Bravo only programs and yield for the high input program were significantly higher than all other treatments.

When pressure was moderate in 2017, the high input and single Orondis Ultra in rotation program were very effective. All fungicide programs except Bravo only increased both fruit number and yield by weight.
Published in Vegetables
Engage Agro Corporation is pleased to announce the tolerance for chlormequat chloride, the active ingredient in MANIPULATOR Plant Growth Regulator, has been established for wheat in the United States.

The U.S. MRL is consistent with CODEX.

Engage Agro has worked closely with the Western Grain Elevator Association (WGEA), and they have informed their members that the U.S. tolerance for Manipulator on wheat is established.

After years of very encouraging field tests, Engage Agro is excited to introduce Manipulator Plant Growth Regulator to wheat producers across Canada. This technology will help producers realize the full potential of high yielding wheat varieties while dramatically reducing lodging.

Engage Agro looks forward to working closely with Canadian wheat producers to ensure maximum benefits of Manipulator Plant Growth regulator are realized.
Published in Companies
Bayer announces the launch of Luna Sensation fungicide in Canada for stone fruit, root vegetables, cucurbit vegetables, leafy green vegetables, leafy petiole vegetables, brassica vegetables and hops.

The foliar product is a co-formulation of two fungicide modes of action, a unique Group 7 SDHI (fluopyram) and a proven Group 11 (trifloxystrobin) to deliver superior disease control, resulting in higher yields and exceptional fruit quality.

“Luna Sensation gives Canadian growers further access to the excellent disease control provided by Luna,” said Jon Weinmaster, crop & campaign marketing manager, corn & horticulture. “It’s designed for optimal efficacy on specific crops and diseases, most of which are not covered by the Luna Tranquility label, a product that has proven invaluable to many horticulture growers for several years already.”

Luna Sensation is a systemic fungicide that targets highly problematic diseases such as sclerotinia rot, powdery mildew, and monilinia.

It also has added benefits for soft fruit.

“Experiences of U.S. and Canadian growers show that Luna offers post-harvest benefits in soft fruit, improving quality during transit and storage”, says Weinmaster “It’s an added benefit that comes from excellent in-crop disease control.”

The addition of Luna Sensation from Bayer extends the trusted protection of the Luna brand to a broader range of crops:
  • Luna Tranquility, a Group 7 and Group 9 fungicide, is registered for apples, grapes, tomatoes, bulb vegetables, small berries and potatoes
  • Luna Sensation is registered for stone fruit, root vegetables, cucurbit vegetables, leafy green and petiole vegetables, brassica vegetables and hops
Luna Sensation will be available to Canadian growers for the 2018 season.

For more information regarding Luna Sensation, growers are encouraged to talk to their local retailer or visit: cropscience.bayer.ca/LunaSensation
Published in Diseases
Syngenta Canada Inc., is pleased to announce the registration of Revus fungicide as a potato seed treatment for the suppression of pink rot and control of seed‑borne late blight in potatoes.

Pink rot is a devastating, soil-borne disease caused by the pathogen Phytophthora erythroseptica that thrives in wet, poorly drained soils. Infection typically takes place pre-harvest, as the pathogen enters tubers through the stem end and lenticels.

Tubers infected with pink rot will often decay during harvest and handling, which allows the pathogen to spread quickly from infected tubers to healthy tubers while in storage.

“Every field has the potential for pink rot,” says Brady Code, eastern technical lead, with Syngenta Canada. “It takes a very small number of infected tubers going over harvest equipment or getting by on the belt to put an entire season of work in jeopardy and leave growers with far fewer healthy potatoes to ship.”

Revus contains the active ingredient mandipropamid (Group 40) and works by protecting the daughter tubers from becoming infected with pink rot.

“Growers can use Revus as part of an integrated approach to target fields where they’ve had pink rot issues in previous seasons, on their more susceptible varieties, and in tandem with other in-furrow and post-harvest fungicides,” explains Shaun Vey, Seedcare and Inoculants product lead with Syngenta Canada.

Vey adds that Revus also provides control of seed-borne late blight (Phytophthora infestans). Syngenta research demonstrates that potatoes treated with Revus for seed-borne late blight have nearly perfect emergence, while untreated seed potatoes infected with late blight have a 20 to 30 per cent reduction in emergence.

“Seed-borne late blight can have a big impact on emergence over time,” explains Vey. “When used as a seed treatment, Revus can help prevent seed piece decay and the spread of disease spores from seed piece to seed piece.”

Revus is applied at 5.9-11.8 mL per cwt of seed (13-26 mL/100 kg of seed).

Following a seed treatment application of Revus fungicide, the first foliar fungicide application should be a product that does not contain a Group 40 active ingredient.

Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for mandipropamid, have been established for markets including Canada, the United States, Japan, and South Korea, in support of the seed treatment use pattern.

For more information about Revus potato seed treatment, please visit Syngenta.ca; contact your local Syngenta Representative or our Customer Interaction Centre at 1‑87‑SYNGENTA (1‑877‑964‑3682).
Published in Diseases
Good nutrition is essential for supporting potato plant health and providing the necessary defense against plant disease and stress.

The International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI), J.R. Simplot Company, and Tennessee State University have collaborated on a new publication that provides readers with access to a unique collection of hundreds of high resolution photographs that document a wide range of nutrient deficiency symptoms in potato plants with remarkable clarity.

"IPNI is fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Pitchay and Simplot in producing this world-class collection of photographs and information," said Dr. Robert Mikkelsen, vice president, IPNI Communications and co-author of the book.

Developed within a unique greenhouse system at Tennessee State University, this collection provides examples of mild, moderate, and severe cases of deficiencies of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn). The identification of nutrient deficiencies in the field can be a difficult process and this collection provides farmers, crop advisers, and mineral nutrition researchers with a valuable diagnostic tool. Once the underlying deficiency is known, strategies can be developed to help avoid losses in yield or crop quality.

“This has been a tremendous opportunity to work with leading scientists to develop a world class collection of fully documented photos describing the major crop nutritional problems commonly observed in the field,” explains Dr. Terry Tindall, director of agronomy for Simplot.

The book is now available to download from the IPNI Store. For more information, visit: http://info.ipni.net/ebooks

Published in Vegetables
Canadians clearly love having fresh local strawberries several times a year and Canada’s day-neutral strawberry industry is growing to meet the demand.
Published in Fruit
David Pratt, formerly of Michigan Sugar Company and Michigan State University recently joined Vive Crop Protection as a technical sales associate.

In the technical sales associate role, Pratt will work with cutting-edge crop protection products in sugar beets and potatoes, managing field trials and presenting information to farmers to help increase profitability on their farms.

Pratt holds a Masters in Science, Agronomy from Michigan State University and his focus will be on AZteroid FC fungicide and Bifender FC insecticide, as well as demonstrating three new products launching in 2019 for potato and sugar beet growers.

AZteroid FC provides excellent disease control and plant health benefits while Bifender FC controls important below-ground insects including rootworm and wireworm. Both products can be mixed in the tank with starter fertilizer, saving farmers money, time and hassle.

Dr. Darren Anderson, President of Vive Crop Protection says, “David’s background in both university and private industry research will help potato and sugarbeet growers to get the best from our products, and will also help us develop new solutions for those customers.”
Published in Companies
Champaign, Ill. — A new lightweight, low-cost agricultural robot could transform data collection and field scouting for agronomists, seed companies and farmers.

The TerraSentia crop phenotyping robot, developed by a team of scientists at the University of Illinois, was featured at the 2018 Energy Innovation Summit Technology Showcase in National Harbor, Maryland, on March 14.

Traveling autonomously between crop rows, the robot measures the traits of individual plants using a variety of sensors, including cameras, transmitting the data in real time to the operator’s phone or laptop computer. A custom app and tablet computer that come with the robot enable the operator to steer the robot using virtual reality and GPS. For the full story, CLICK HERE
Published in Spraying
A University of Maryland researcher has traced the origin of pest populations of the Colorado potato beetle back to the Plains states, dispelling theories that the beetle came from Mexican or other divergent populations.

Little was previously known about the beetle's origin as a pest, particularly how it developed the ability to consume potatoes and decimate entire fields so quickly. With its unique ability to adapt to pesticides almost faster than the industry can keep up, this beetle is consistently an issue for potato farmers. Using investigative evolutionary biology to determine the origins of this beetle and understand the pest's genetic makeup better, industry can better target pest management strategies to combat pesticide resistance and ultimately improve the potato industry.

The United States is the fourth largest producer of potatoes worldwide, producing over 20 million tons of potatoes each year. By comparing the genetics of pre-agriculture potato beetles, before the pest began to consume potatoes, to post-agriculture potato beetles, Dr. David Hawthorne of the Entomology Department and his team hope to understand why and how the beetle is developing resistance so quickly, and what can be done to slow resistance.

"The Colorado potato beetle is almost always one of the first insects to develop resistance to any pesticide. In fact, many contribute the entire pesticide arms race and development of pesticides to this particular beetle, which can destroy entire fields very easily," says Hawthorne.

"With this study," explains Hawthorne, "we were trying to gain insight into two major questions: Where did the potato beetle come from? And why do they evolve resistance so quickly? This would have major implications in controlling the pest, since the more growers have to spray, the greater their costs and risk to the surrounding environment. We need a strategy to weigh our options and determine the best way to control these pests without overspraying or even torching entire fields overrun with beetles, which has happened in the past when there has been no effective pesticide options."

Hawthorne and his team found that populations of beetles eating potatoes are most closely related to nightshade eaters in the Plains states. Beetles from Mexico, a possible source of the pest populations, were far too distantly related to have been the source of this beetles.

"Before they became pests, the plains beetles first evolved a taste for potatoes," says Hawthorne. "Some non-pest populations still don't eat them and will prefer the weeds surrounding the potatoes, but not the potatoes themselves. This is just one way that populations may differ."

By understanding the distinctions between these populations and which beetles are the source of current pest populations, more targeted pest management strategies can be developed based on the specific genetic makeup of the beetles, leading to more effective and less spraying.

Hawthorne describes this work as almost forensic biology, tracking the evolution and movement of this beetle across time and geography.

"I like that this work is very interdisciplinary," says Dr. Hawthorne. "It is about taking all the puzzle pieces and trying to put the whole story together to have the biggest impact on the field. Ultimately, this work is a major step towards understanding one of the most harmful pests, and has significant implications in controlling the population, keeping the potato industry stable, and fighting pesticide resistance and overspraying."

Dr. Hawthorne's study was published in The Journal of Economic Entomology.
Published in Vegetables
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