Agronomy
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
University of Florida scientists plan to use a $7.3 million, four-year grant to find the genetic traits that will make sweet corn taste even better, last longer and grow better.

Mark Settles, a professor of horticultural sciences at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will lead the project. UF/IFAS researchers will also get help from scientists at Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin, Washington State University and the USDA to conduct the study.

“What we want to do is find those genes that make sweet corn a tasty vegetable and be able to then use those genes in traditional breeding,” Settles said.

For example, researchers hope to boost the sugar levels of sweet corn.

“It’s a really popular vegetable. But there have been few game-changing innovations that would boost the taste and yield of sweet corn.”

Fewer than 14 per cent of American adults consume the USDA recommended amount of vegetables for a healthy diet, and overall, fruit and vegetable consumption is declining in the U.S., Settles said.

“As the fifth most popular vegetable in America, sweet corn is no exception to this trend,” he said. “However, demand for fresh market and frozen corn is increasing, relative to canned corn, and breeders need to be able to provide the best sweet corn seed possible.

“Both fresh and processed sweet corn must meet consumer desires for taste, appearance and convenience,” Settles said. “Many quality traits are best addressed through the genetics of sweet corn varieties.”

Through test panels run by Sims, researchers will find out tastes, aroma and texture that consumers like. As study participants sample the corn, they’ll also tell how much they’d be willing to pay for it, which makes up the economics portion of the research, Settles said.

To get started on finding the best genetic traits, scientists will screen existing sweet corn seeds to find genes that, among other things, help corn grow right after planting, Settles said. This will be particularly helpful for organic farmers, he said.

They also hope to try to beat back any pests.

Lastly, scientists seek genetic traits that make corn last longer on grocery store shelves and requires less pesticide use, Settles said.

“We also want to make corn taste good for longer,” he said.
Published in Research
Wageningen University & Research uses computer models to develop sustainable management strategies in the control of potato late blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans.

At the moment, large amounts of fungicides are used to control the disease. Organic farmers face an additional challenge because they are not allowed to use these chemicals. From an environmental point of view, these chemicals are also very polluting and therefore sustainable late blight management strategies are needed.

In Ph.D research study, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties.

In Francine Pacilly's Ph.D. research, computer models have been used to investigate how the disease spreads in an agricultural landscape and to analyze the effect of growing resistant varieties.

These models show that an increase in the number of potato fields with resistant varieties increases the risk that aggressive strains of the pathogen emerge and spread.

This risk decreases if more than 50 per cent of the acreage of potato fields consists of resistant varieties. So, many resistant potatoes are not yet available so alertness is required. Various strategies are available to limit the consequences of a breakthrough, for example the spatial allocation of crops in combination with the use of small amounts of fungicides to limit the environmental impact.

In addition, growing resistant varieties with multiple resistance genes reduces the risk of susceptibility to the potato disease. It is expected that these type of varieties will enter the market soon.

Last year workshops with farmers were organized to increase awareness about the risk of resistance breakdown. In these workshops, the computer model was used to present several model scenarios to conventional and organic farmers. These workshops were very useful for showing farmers how the disease spreads in a landscape over time and space and for showing the effects in the long term.

After the workshop farmers agreed that resistance management is important to increase the durability of resistant varieties and that collaborative action is needed. The workshops were useful to bring farmers together and to discuss strategies in the control of late blight to reduce the impact of the disease.

In order to develop sustainable strategies it is important to consider all factors that influence late blight control such as the disease, the crop and control strategies of farmers. This research is part of the Complex Adaptive Systems program of Wageningen University where the goal is to identify these factors and to analyze how they influence each other. Potato late blight as one system brings a future without chemical control closer.
Published in Diseases
Soil advocates want potato growers to bump soil management up their priority list.
Published in Vegetables
Some relationships can be complicated. Take the one between sweet potato crops and soil nitrogen, for example.
Published in Vegetables
Publication 360, Fruit Crop Protection Guide 2018-2019 is now available as a downloadable pdf file, through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website at the following links:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub360/p360toc.htm

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/french/crops/pub360/p360toc.htm 

Individual chapters will be made available on the OMAFRA website soon. There will only be a limited number of copies of the print version of Publication 360 available through Service Ontario.

Published in Fruit
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.
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
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