Protection
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 The last fumigant nematicide was withdrawn over the last five years.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
Canada's AgGrowth coalition and our members believe it is critical to continue the Business Risk Management (BRM) review with a comprehensive mandate, and encourage the Federal Provincial Territorial (FPT) Agriculture Ministers to extend the review process without delay.

In summer of 2017, the FPT Agriculture Ministers initiated a review of the BRM programming in response to concerns that BRM programming did not meet farmer's needs. The review is not complete, and more work needs to be done to achieve a complete picture of gaps in the BRM suite and identify solutions.

"We urge Canada's Agriculture Ministers to extend the BRM review process under the guidance of a new steering committee, including more participation from our farming organizations." said Mark Brock, chair, AgGrowth Coalition. "This will help ensure that BRM programing is more effective at managing risk for producers on the farm."

The External Advisory Panel, established to advise on the BRM review, will be submitting recommendations to the FPT Ministers this July in Vancouver. AgGrowth encourages the FPT Ministers to support their work to find solutions for farmers. The AgGrowth Coalition supports the work of the External Advisory Panel (EAP).

"The Canadian agri-food sector has great potential - it is a strategic national asset," said Jeff Nielson, vice chair, AgGrowth Coalition. "There are many opportunities for growth, but they come at a time with increased volatility and risk. Canadian farmers need a suite of BRM programs that they can use to effectively manage risk so they seize these opportunities."

AgGrowth Coalition was established by farmers to advocate for a comprehensive reform of risk management programming. The agriculture sector wants to continue to work in partnership with governments across the country to establish the right policies and programs to better reflect modern farming needs in Canada.
Published in Federal
Ontario’s horticultural industry has launched a digital campaign to demonstrate public support for a long-running program that allows growers affected by a chronic labour shortage to hire workers from Mexico and the Caribbean on a seasonal basis.

The Fairness for Growers campaign uses a web portal to provide information about the benefits of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and to help consumers to directly email their Members of Parliament, voicing support for the program and the importance of continued access to fresh, local food.

The campaign was initiated in May. As of June, 1,400 Canadians had used the portal to send letters of support for SAWP to their MPs.

The labour program was established in 1966 to respond to a severe shortage of domestic agricultural workers. It continues to serve the same role 52 years later, enabling Ontario farmers to stay in business.

This year, more than 18,000 workers from Mexico and the Caribbean are expected to fill vacancies on a seasonal basis — up to a maximum of eight months — at approximately 1,450 Ontario farms.

But the federal government may change that. Federal regulators who oversee the program are implementing more and more regulations, and some growers are concerned about the program’s future.

These changes could threaten the livelihoods of thousands of farmers, making it harder for local growers to get the workers they need and operate effectively.

They could also significantly reduce access to local fruits and vegetables on store shelves, put Canadian jobs at risk and hurt thousands of seasonal workers who want these jobs to provide a better standard of living for the families.

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program is a “Canadians first” program, which means supplementary seasonal farm labour is hired from partner countries only if farmers cannot find Canadians willing to take the same jobs.

It’s estimated that at least two jobs for Canadians are created in the agri-food industry for every seasonal worker employed through SAWP at Ontario farms.

Without the program most Ontario farmers simply couldn’t continue to grow fruits and vegetables. Some would move into less labour-intensive crops, while others would abandon agriculture altogether.

Recent labour market research by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council cited the program as a key reason Ontario’s horticulture industry is able to generate $5.4 billion in economic activity and approximately 34,280 jobs.

A severe shortage of domestic workers is costing Canadian farms approximately $1.5 billion per year and hurting Canada’s overall economic competitiveness, according to research by the Conference Board of Canada.

For more information, visit www.fairnessforgrowers.ca

Published in Provinces
Storm Preparedness – are you ready?

The following are recommendations to help you prepare for damaging winds, should they occur. Preparedness before and after a storm can improve your opportunity for a rapid recovery.
  • Young trees can break in high winds if they have not been tied to support systems. Train young trees as quickly as possible before the storm is expected.
  • Ensure that equipment is accessible if it will be needed for recovery, including saws, shovels, fuel, equipment parts, and knowledge of the location and cost of other equipment.
  • A long-term strategy for storm preparedness includes insurance coverage for equipment and crops, windbreaks, ongoing disease management, and a regular pruning program to control tree size and improve air movement.
A special note from Michelle, tree fruit specialist: Apple growers should be aware that damage to plant tissues is a fire blight trauma event in which fire blight bacteria have access to open wounds to enter and infect tissues. Please follow all local recommendations for fire blight trauma events and contact Michelle Cortens (c) 902-679-7908 for more information.
Published in Fruit
Late blight has been confirmed on tomato plants near Syracuse, New York (Onondaga County). At this time the late blight strain is not believed to be a known or common strain.

The late blight confirmation is the first reported in the North East this season. The find is close enough that potato and tomato growers in Ontario should be on alert for this disease. | READ MORE 
Published in Vegetables
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is offering support for customers growing fruit and vegetables or operating wineries facing financial hardship as a result of recent widespread frost throughout all three Maritime provinces.

In the first week of June, temperatures dropped to as low as -3 C., causing varying degrees of damage to fruit and vegetable crops in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. As a result, many customers may experience lower yields, reduced revenues and, in some cases, face higher operating costs.

Although FCC’s support program is focused on customers in these provinces, FCC offers flexibility to all customers through challenging business cycles and unpredictable circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

“While producers and agri-food processors are still assessing the impact of the frost damage, we want them to know we are ready to provide the support they may need to reduce any short-term financial pressure caused by the unusual weather.” said Faith Matchett, FCC vice-president of operations for Atlantic and Eastern Ontario.

“Knowing that we are prepared to help will hopefully provide some comfort for the many producers and agri-food processors who may be feeling personal hardship and stress as a result of the frost at the beginning of the growing season,” she said. “We will support customers as needed and ensure they have the financial means to continue operations or prepare for the next season.”

FCC will work with customers to come up with solutions for their operation and will consider deferral of principal payments and/or other loan payment schedule amendments to reduce the financial pressure on producers
caused by the late spring frost.

“Having farmed for many years, I know that things don’t always go to planned and the weather can have a serious impact on farm operations,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. “This late frost has created a difficult situation for many fruit and vegetable farmers across New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. I’m pleased that FCC is able to offer financial assistance and flexibility to those who have been impacted.”

Customers in the three impacted provincesare encouraged to contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 to discuss their individual situation and options.
Published in Companies
Working in the intense heat of the summer sun can put workers at risk of heat stress, but heat stress can also hit you in places you wouldn't expect.

"Any job that causes your body temperature to rise has the potential to cause heat stress," says WSPS occupational hygiene consultant Michael Puccini. "Even jobs carried out in air-conditioned environments."

Left unchecked, heat stress can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heart attack, and other physical health effects. Plus, it can be damaging to business, by way of lost productivity, disability costs, and fines and penalties.

Prepare for the heat now
These heat waves may last only a week or two, but in this time workers can suffer debilitating effects and even death. A few simple steps taken now can keep your people thriving and productive even in the hottest weather.

"Based on the internal responsibility system, everyone has a role to play," says WSPS occupational hygienist Warren Clements. "Employers, supervisors and workers can all make a difference in their workplaces."

Steps for employers:
Put a policy and procedures in place, based on a risk assessment. Ask questions, such as:
  • Have workers been affected by heat in the past?
  • Is work done in direct sunlight?
  • Are there heat producing processes or equipment in the workplace?
This will help you understand the magnitude of the issue. If heat stress may be a hazard, you may want to conduct heat stress measurements so you can develop a control plan. The plan should include engineering controls, such as insulating hot surfaces.

Train all employees during orientation on the policy and procedures to manage the hazard.
  • Include heat stress symptoms, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone starts showing symptoms.
  • Heat stress training is particularly critical for young and new workers, as well as all manual workers.
  • Research conducted by the Institute for Work & Health shows that heat strokes, sunstrokes and other heat illnesses disproportionately affect those on the job less than two months.
Steps for supervisors:
  • Acclimatize workers to hot conditions, and watch out for de-acclimatization. Workers can lose their tolerance in only four days.
  • Schedule work in the hottest locations for cooler times of day. Build cool-down breaks into work schedules. Adjust the frequency and duration of breaks as needed. "Taking a break means going to a cooler work area or providing workers with periodic rest breaks and rest facilities in cooler conditions," says Warren.
  • Get to know your workplace and your workers. "Are there certain jobs at elevated risk? Is anybody working outside today? 'Is so-and-so looking a little different from how he normally looks? A little more flushed? Sitting down more?'"
  • Ensure ready access to cool water in convenient, visible locations. Workers need to replenish their fluids if they are becoming dehydrated.
  • Supply protective equipment and clothing as needed, such as water-dampened cotton whole-body suits, cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs, and water-cooled suits.
  • Monitor weather forecasts. "If it's Tuesday and you know superhot weather is coming on Thursday, ask yourself, 'Who will be working then? What will they be doing? Who... or what... should I watch out for?'"
  • Be extra vigilant in extreme conditions. "Check on workers frequently. If you can't do this, then assign a temporary pair of eyes to do it for you."
Steps for workers: 
Watch out for each other and speak up. "People suffering from heat stress don't always recognize their own symptoms. If anyone's behaviour is 'more than usual' - more sweating, more flushed, hyperventilating - it could be a sign of heat stress." Other signs could include rashes, muscle cramping, dizziness, fainting, and headaches.

For more information, visit: Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
Published in Safety
Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, recently announced that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) in Canada has granted Dow AgroSciences new label registration for Closer Insecticide for the control of Campylomma verbasci (mullein bug) effective immediately.

This announcement is significant as it means Canadian apple growers now have full access to a highly effective product for pest control.

“Closer has always been known for its targeted and quick control of aphids and other orchard pests. With this registration, growers can have even greater confidence in the quality and efficacy of Closer on apples when outbreaks occur as well as for resistance management,” explains Tyler Groeneveld, category leader, Horticulture with Corteva Agriscience.

Closer Insecticide, powered by Isoclast active, is a revolutionary product ideal for control of both resistant and non-resistant pests, delivering the active ingredient sulfoxaflor, which is classified by the Insecticide Resistance Action Committee as the sole member of IRAC Subgroup 4C Sulfoximines.

The active ingredient moves quickly through the plant to deliver excellent systemic and translaminar activity. Pests are controlled both through contact and by ingestion, resulting in fast knockdown and residual control.

Closer is highly selective and has minimal impact on beneficial insects. The properties and overall spectrum of activity of Closer Insecticide makes it an excellent fit for treatment when outbreaks occur as well as part of Integrated Pest Management Programs (IPM) to minimize flare-ups. Further information can be found at: www.corteva.com.
Published in Insects
AgSafe has launched a new free safety self-assessment web tool for B.C.’s agriculture organizations and other naturally aligned industries.

The Safety Ready Certificate of Recognition (COR) Self-Assessment website is designed to assist organizations in assessing their readiness for a COR program audit.

The self-assessment tool begins with a questionnaire to be completed by the person responsible for overseeing the Safety Management System in your organization. Once that is done, the tool provides feedback on your readiness for a COR review. The web tool will also help you calculate your organization’s potential WorkSafeBC incentive.

“There are three levels of readiness and depending on your organization’s situation you may need assistance from an AgSafe advisor or consultant to become audit ready,” explained Wendy Bennett, executive director of AgSafe. “This is a resource designed to streamline the process and help employers become more familiar with what they need to do to reduce safety risks in their organization.”

Between 2013 and 2017, 641 agricultural workers were seriously injured and seven killed in work-related incidents.

AgSafe is committed to reducing the number of agriculture-related workplace deaths and injuries. They are doing this by offering health and safety programs, training and evaluation, consultation and guidance.

As a COR program certifying partner AgSafe offers a Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for large and small employers in British Columbia’s agriculture industry and ensures that WorkSafeBC is aware of all COR certified agriculture employers.

AgSafe’s COR Self-Assessment Tool is also available to companies that are not classified as agriculture, such as landscape professionals, tree services, or animal handling, but have been advised to work with AgSafe for their COR certification.

AgSafe does not charge for use of the assessment tool. Set up your account by going to the COR Self-Assessment website.

For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture workplace safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca
Published in Safety
Protecting fruit crops from birds and other predators has never been easy. Scarecrows, reflective tape, netting, shotguns, propane-powered bangers and other audible bird scare devices, as well as traps and falcons, number among the most popular tools at growers’ disposal.
Published in Research
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
AgSafe, formerly known as Farm and Ranch Safety and Health Association (FARSHA), is celebrating their 25th anniversary as British Columbia’s agriculture health and safety association.

Established in May of 1993, AgSafe has been the expert on safety in the workplace for B.C.’s agriculture industry and offers site-specific health and safety programs, training, evaluation and consultation services. AgSafe is also a COR program certifying partner and offers a Certificate of Recognition (COR) program for large and small employers.

The organization was established as a joint initiative of WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board of British Columbia), the BC Agriculture Council and the Canadian Farmworkers’ Union as B.C.’s experts on workplace safety for the agriculture industry.

Wendy Bennett has been the AgSafe executive director since 2015. “I am really happy to be in this position and celebrating this milestone,” Bennett commented. “I’m proud of AgSafe and the work our team does. Our consultants and advisors work hard to deliver safety information and guidance to hundreds of employers and workers around the province every year, and we’ve seen a significant change over the past twenty-five years with better safety practices for those who work in agriculture.”

Don Dahr, former WorkSafeBC Director of Industry and Labour Services, is the newly elected chair of the AgSafe Board of Directors replacing long-time retiring chair, Ralph McGinn.

“I’ve been involved with, and supported this organization for many years,” says Dahr. “As a non-voting member on the AgSafe Board of Directors for five years my role was to provide guidance on issues affecting agriculture and safety initiatives. Over the years I’ve watched the organization make great strides in developing and offering safety resources and consultation to B.C.’s farmers and ranchers.”

Just over half of B.C.’s agriculture industry employers regularly use services, resources, or information from AgSafe and almost two thirds of agriculture employers have accessed AgSafe resources periodically.

AgSafe’s services are also available to B.C. based landscape trades and professionals, garden centres, wholesale and retail nurseries, suppliers, and tree services.

For more information about AgSafe services or agriculture workplace safety call 1-877-533-1789 or visit www.AgSafeBC.ca.
Published in Associations
In the past 10 years, the invasive fruit fly known as the spotted-wing drosophila has caused millions of dollars of damage to berry and other fruit crops.

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a method of manipulating the genes of an agricultural pest that has invaded much of the United States and caused millions of dollars in damage to high-value berry and other fruit crops.

Research led by Anna Buchman in the lab of Omar Akbari, a new UC San Diego insect genetics professor, describes the world’s first “gene drive” system—a mechanism for manipulating genetic inheritance—in Drosophila suzukii, a fruit fly commonly known as the spotted-wing drosophila.

As reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Buchman and her colleagues developed a gene drive system termed Medea (named after the mythological Greek enchantress who killed her offspring) in which a synthetic “toxin” and a corresponding “antidote” function to dramatically influence inheritance rates with nearly perfect efficiency.

“We’ve designed a gene drive system that dramatically biases inheritance in these flies and can spread through their populations,” said Buchman. “It bypasses normal inheritance rules. It’s a new method for manipulating populations of these invasive pests, which don’t belong here in the first place.”

Native to Japan, the highly invasive fly was first found on the West Coast in 2008 and has now been reported in more than 40 states.

The spotted wing drosophila uses a sharp organ known as an ovipositor to pierce ripening fruit and deposit eggs directly inside the crop, making it much more damaging than other drosophila flies that lay eggs only on top of decaying fruit. Drosophila suzukii has reportedly caused more than $39 million in revenue losses for the California raspberry industry alone and an estimated $700 million overall per year in the U.S.

In contained cage experiments of spotted wing drosophila using the synthetic Medea system, the researchers reported up to 100 percent effective inheritance bias in populations descending 19 generations.

“We envision, for example, replacing wild flies with flies that are alive but can’t lay eggs directly in blueberries,” said Buchman.

Applications for the new synthetic gene drive system could include spreading genetic elements that confer susceptibility to certain environmental factors, such as temperature.

If a certain temperature is reached, for example, the genes within the modified spotted wing flies would trigger its death. Other species of fruit flies would not be impacted by this system.

“This is the first gene drive system in a major worldwide crop pest,” said Akbari, who recently moved his lab to UC San Diego from UC Riverside, where the research began. “Given that some strains demonstrated 100 per cent non-Mendelian transmission ratios, far greater than the 50 percent expected for normal Mendelian transmission, this system could in the future be used to control populations of D. suzukii.”

Another possibility for the new gene drive system would be to enhance susceptibility to environmentally friendly insecticides already used in the agricultural industry.

“I think everybody wants access to quality fresh produce that’s not contaminated with anything and not treated with toxic pesticides, and so if we don’t deal with Drosophila suzukii, crop losses will continue and might lead to higher prices,” said Buchman. “So this gene drive system is a biologically friendly, environmentally friendly way to protect an important part of our food supply.”

Co-authors of the paper include: John Marshall of UC Berkeley, Dennis Ostrovski of UC Riverside and Ting Yang of UC Riverside and now UC San Diego. The California Cherry Board supported the research through a grant.
Published in Research
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
Join us Tue, Apr 24, 2018 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EDT for an interactive webinar on Climate Change - Impact on Fruit and Vegetable Crops.
Published in Webinars
February 20, 2018, Kelowna, BC – It’s not something politicians like to talk about but Okanagan fruit growers say it’s something that needs to be addressed.

The B.C. Fruit Growers Association says it’s time governments begin talking about the possibility of a deer cull because the deer are destroying their orchards. READ MORE
Published in Associations
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
Published in Insects
February 9, 2018 – For growers, a fundamental element of integrated pest management is knowing what pest and beneficial species are in your fields. But what if there’s an insect and no one knows if it’s good or bad?

That was the situation for apple growers in Washington when it came to the European earwig. The bugs were there, but no one knew if they helped growers or harmed their crop.

In 2014, the same year Robert Orpet began his doctoral program, there was a bad outbreak of woolly apple aphids in Washington orchards.

“The trees looked like they were covered in snow,” he remembered. “It was very visible, and people don’t like that.”

Orpet was part of an interdisciplinary team looking into the aphid, and one of his tasks was to interview growers about natural predators. Although there was some scientific literature in Europe that suggested earwigs were aphid predators, very few growers named them as important beneficial natural enemies.

Many, in fact, said they thought earwigs were pests that damaged their apples because they’d found earwigs in cracks in their fruit.

Orpet had an idea why grower’s perceptions and the scientific literature might differ.

“Earwigs are active at night, so people don’t see them eating aphids,” he said. “They also move into tight spaces, a behavior called thigmotaxis, so it wasn’t clear if the insects were causing the damage to the fruit or just sheltering in the damage.”

Another possible explanation was that the European literature was just wrong.

“What literature there was tended to be observational and anecdotal,” he said. “The question had never been tested experimentally in a realistic field situation.”

So, with a graduate student grant from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program, Orpet designed an experiment to test the positive and negative effects of earwigs in apple orchards.

He set up experimental sections in four different orchards and, in each section, either added earwigs, removed earwigs or left them alone. Because of the insects’ small-space-seeking behaviour, they are easy to trap in corrugated cardboard rolls and move from one place to another.

The results were pretty clear.

First, earwigs are aphid predators. Not only did his numbers support that, he captured video of a single earwig completely consuming an aphid colony. (See it at youtube.com/watch?v=sSFakIgkfMI)

“We measured it in a few different ways, but the maximum amount of woolly apple aphids was two to three times greater in the trees with fewer earwigs than the trees with more earwigs. Earwigs did suppress the woolly apple aphid.”

The damage question was a bit more complex, but also came out in the earwigs’ favour.

“We inspected apples very close to harvest when the apples were ripe,” he explained. “I looked at about 12,000 apples on the trees in the sections were earwigs had been augmented and removed. Overall, 97 per cent of the apples were good, and the chance of finding a good apple were the same in both the augmented and removal areas.”

Orpet did find stem-bowl splitting in some apples – a flaw more common in the Gala variety – and there were earwigs in some of those splits. And in a handful – 17 apples in the augmented areas and five in the removal areas – those splits appeared to have been expanded by the insects.

“My conclusion was the earwigs didn’t cause the cracking but did exploit the existing damage,” he explained.

He’s scheduled to graduate in August and has already shared the findings at growers’ meetings: clear evidence that earwigs are beneficial natural predators in apple orchards.

And, if growers are still skeptical, Orpet can always call up the video.

Read more about the project at: projects.sare.org/sare_project/gw18-039/
Published in Insects
February 7, 2018, Guelph, Ont – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) recently announced the approval of a minor use label expansion registration for Reason 500SC fungicide for control of downy mildew on basil and an amendment to update the label to include management of downy mildew on the new Brassica vegetable crop groups 5-13 and 4-13B in Canada.

The head and stem Brassica vegetable group includes cabbage, napa cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli and the new Brassica leafy greens crop group includes arugula, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, collards, cress, kale, mizuna, mustard greens, etc. Reason fungicide was already labeled for use on a number of crops in Canada for control of several diseases.

These minor use projects were submitted by Ontario as a result of minor use priorities established by growers and extension personnel.

Reason fungicide is toxic to aquatic organisms and may be harmful to beneficial predatory or parasitic arthropods. Do not apply this product or allow drift to other crops or non-target areas. Do not contaminate off-target areas or aquatic habitats when spraying or when cleaning and rinsing spray equipment or containers.

Follow all other precautions, restrictions and directions for use on the Reason fungicide label carefully.

For a copy of the new minor use label contact your local crop specialist, regional supply outlet or visit the PMRA label site https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/pesticides-pest-management/registrants-applicants/tools/pesticide-label-search.html
Published in Diseases
February 1, 2018, Madison, WI – The Colorado potato beetle is notorious for its role in starting the pesticide industry – and for its ability to resist the insecticides developed to stop it.

Managing the beetle costs tens of millions of dollars every year, but this is a welcome alternative to the billions of dollars in damage it could cause if left unchecked.

To better understand this tenacious pest, a team of scientists led by University of Wisconsin–Madison entomologist Sean Schoville sequenced the beetle’s genome, probing its genes for clues to its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides. The new information sheds light on how this insect jumps to new plant hosts and handles toxins, and it will help researchers explore more ways to control the beetle.

Schoville and colleagues from 33 other institutes and universities report their findings in the Jan. 31, 2018 issue of Scientific Reports.

The Colorado potato beetle’s rapid spread, hardiness, and recognizable tiger-like stripes have caught global attention since it began infesting potatoes in the 1800s. The beetle was investigated as a potential agricultural weapon by Germany in the 1940s and its postwar spread into the Soviet bloc stoked an anti-American propaganda campaign to pin the invasion on outsiders. More benignly, it has been featured on many countries’ stamps and is used in classrooms to educate about insect lifecycles.

But it was the beetle’s ability to rapidly develop resistance to insecticides and to spread to climates previously thought inhospitable that has fascinated and frustrated entomologists for decades.

“All that effort of trying to develop new insecticides is just blown out of the water by a pest like this that can just very quickly overcome it,” says Schoville. “That poses a challenge for potato growers and for the agricultural entomologists trying to manage it. And it’s just fascinating from an evolutionary perspective.”

Within the beetle’s genome, Schoville’s team found a diverse and large array of genes used for digesting plant proteins, helping the beetle thrive on its hosts. The beetle also had an expanded number of genes for sensing bitter tastes, likely because of their preference for the bitter nightshade family of plants, of which potatoes are a member.

But when it came to the pest’s infamous ability to overcome insecticides, the researchers were surprised to find that the Colorado potato beetle’s genome looked much like those of its less-hardy cousins. The team did not find new resistance-related genes to explain the insect’s tenaciousness.

“So this is what's interesting – it wasn't by diversifying their genome, adding new genes, that would explain rapid pesticide evolution,” says Schoville. “So it leaves us with a whole bunch of new questions to pursue how that works.”

Schoville and his collaborators see their research as a resource for the diverse group of scientists studying how to control the beetle as well as its life history and evolution.

“What this genome will do is enable us to ask all sorts of new questions around insects, why they’re pests and how they’ve evolved,” says Yolanda Chen, a professor at the University of Vermont and another leader of the beetle genome effort. “And that’s why we’re excited about it.”

The genome did provide a clue to the beetle’s known sensitivity to an alternative control system, known as RNA interference, or RNAi for short. The nucleic acid RNA translates the genetic instructions from DNA into proteins, and RNAi uses gene-specific strands of RNA to interfere with and degrade those messages. In the beetle, RNAi can be used to gum up its cellular machinery and act as a kind of insecticide. The Colorado potato beetle has an expanded RNAi processing pathway, meaning it could be particularly amenable to experimental RNAi control methods.

Schoville and Chen are now sequencing another 100 genomes of the Colorado potato beetle and its close relatives to continue investigating the hardiness and adaptability that have captured so many people’s attention for the past 150 years.
Published in Insects
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