Protection
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
Both federal and provincial governments remain dedicated to helping the ranchers, farmers and apiarists of British Columbia who have been impacted by the devastating effects of the wildfires throughout the province.
Published in Provinces
A University of Florida scientist will lead a team of researchers trying to help battle Fusarium wilt, a major tomato disease around the world.

Sam Hutton, an associate professor of horticultural sciences at the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, will use a new $490,000 federal grant from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to find ways to develop improved varieties that contain genes to help tomatoes thwart Fusarium wilt.

Resistance to one type of Fusarium wilt comes from a gene known as I-3, said Hutton, a faculty member at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida. Several years ago, UF/IFAS researchers found this gene in wild tomato relatives and introduced it into commercial varieties through traditional breeding, he said.

But while the I-3 gene makes tomatoes more resistant to Fusarium wilt, it also reduces fruit size and increases the potential for bacterial spot disease, Hutton said.

“We are conducting the study to remedy this situation,” he said. “Less bacterial spot and larger fruit size should both translate into better returns for the grower.”

Hutton wants to know whether the negative impacts that come with the I-3 gene stem from genes that tagged along from the wild tomato relative.

“If this is the case, we should be able to eliminate these problems by getting rid of those extra genes by whittling down the size of chromosome that came from the wild species,” Hutton said. “Plants that lack the negative genes will be developed using traditional breeding techniques, and simple molecular genetic tools will help us identify which individuals to keep.”

In the project, scientists also are looking again to tomato’s wild relatives, searching for new sources of resistance to Fusarium wilt.

“These new resistance genes may not have any of the problems that we currently see with I-3,” Hutton said. “And they may provide novel mechanisms of disease resistance that could further improve breeding efforts.

“We expect these efforts to result in an expanded toolkit of resources that can be leveraged to develop improved Fusarium wilt-resistant varieties,” he said.
Published in Research
The use of biocontrol pest methods in horticulture is growing, whether it’s trap crops, pheromone traps, predatory insects or biopesticides.
Published in Insects
A Purdue University entomologist suggests that high-tunnel fruit and vegetable growers carefully consider species and tunnel construction when using natural enemies to control pest insect species.

Laura Ingwell, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of entomology, studies pest-control methods in protected agricultural systems. She’s interested in determining best practices for fruit and vegetable growers using high tunnels, which can extend the growing season. Her previous research has shown that high tunnels can increase not only crop yield, but also damaging pests.

In research published in the journal Biological Control, Ingwell tested augmentative biological control, which employs predatory insects that prey on crop pests. Producers supplement natural enemies in the environment with commercially available predators. The study sought to determine the best way to retain the beneficial insects in the high tunnels, reducing their dispersal to neighboring habitats.

Ingwell used small-opening, 0.18 mm2 screens on a subset of tunnels to test a variety of predatory insects, including lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, spined soldier bugs and green lacewings on tomatoes and cucumbers. Three times in the space of a week, researchers collected and counted the predators, but few had survived. Meanwhile, crop pests thrived.

“We had a really low recapture rate of all the predators that we used — less than 10 per cent,” Ingwell said. “The screens did not work, which really surprised us.”

Ingwell said the heat created by the screens was the likely culprit. It might have driven some to escape through cracks and holes in screens that are inevitable with high tunnels. The heat, which reached average maximum temperatures of 98°F, might have also killed many of the predators. The physical barrier prevented other predators from naturally colonizing in these tunnels.

“Airflow was significantly reduced by the screens, which trapped so much heat that it changed the environment inside the tunnels making it inhospitable for the predators we released,” Ingwell said. “The mites and aphids, which damage crops, seem to be less affected by the heat stress. They may be able to better handle those temperatures, or they may reproduce so quickly that their populations were better able to survive.”

In another set of tunnels, flowers and chemicals meant to attract predatory insects were used. The flowers provide alternative food for the predators when prey populations are low and the chemicals, called herbivore-induced plant volatiles, attract predators because they mimic the scents created when pest insects damage crops, signaling to predators that a meal is nearby. In those tunnels, twice as many minute pirate bugs were retained.

Ingwell suggests growers consider using flower varieties that can be sold commercially so as not to waste space that might be used for crops. For this study, Benary’s giant golden yellow zinnia and fireworks gomphrena were effective.

The take-away message from Ingwell is that using beneficial insects can work in some scenarios, but getting the right balance is tricky.

“In general, augmentative biocontrol may not be worth the investment because in most cases, those insects aren’t staying or surviving long enough to have an effect,” Ingwell said. “Unless you alter those environments to keep the predators there, this may not be a cost-effective method for controlling crop pests.”

Ingwell is continuing to test screen sizes and different predator pests to improve pest control in high tunnels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture funded this study.
Published in Research
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay, and Minister of Agriculture for British Columbia, Lana Popham, issued the following statement today in response to the British Columbia wildfires.

“The Governments of Canada and British Columbia are working closely together to ensure the safety of Canadians during this difficult time. In addition to other actions being taken by both our governments, officials are monitoring the wildfires and the potential impacts on farms.

“A suite of federal-provincial-territorial business risk management programs is available to help
farmers manage risks that threaten the viability of their farm, including disaster situations. We
encourage farmers to participate in these programs to help ensure they can access support during
these difficult times.

“Having been farmers ourselves, our thoughts go out to the farm families who have been affected by the wildfires. In British Columbia and across Canada, our hardworking farmers are the backbone of our economy. We are committed to supporting them at this difficult time as they work hard to get their safe, high-quality products to our kitchen tables.”

For more information on the current status of B.C. wildfires, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status
Published in Federal
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
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.
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
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
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