Maine IPM Report, 2019

NEERA meeting: May 1, 2019, College Park, MD


Glen Koehler (Tree Fruit IPM, USDA Climate Hub) representing James Dill (IPM Coordinator), Charles Armstrong (Cranberry and Home & Garden IPM), Kerry Bernard (Pesticide Safety Education), Griffin Dill (Tick ID Lab), Clay Kirby (Insect Diagnostic Lab), Sean McAuley (Potato IPM), Alicyn Smart (Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab), Thomas Rounsville (DNA-PCR Lab).


A survey done in 2019 about IPM practices in the 2018 growing season found:

  • Portion of growers rating the Extension IPM Program Tree Fruit Newsletter as useful: 100%
  • Portion rating the Ag-Radar weather-based web pest and crop models as useful: 100%
  • Portion who benefited from at least one IPM Program presentation or troubleshooting consultation (phone, email, field visit) in 2018: 100%
  • Average reduction in pest damage attributed to Extension IPM Program information and services: 30%
  • Extrapolated statewide crop value of damage reduction: $6.4 million
  • Average insecticide/miticide savings per acre attributed to Extension IPM Program: $112
  • Extrapolated statewide value of insecticide/miticide savings: $325,800
  • Average fungicide/bactericide savings per acre attributed to Extension IPM Program: $93
  • Extrapolated statewide value of fungicide/bactericide savings: $268,250
  • Average growth regulator/herbicide/praying costs/other savings per acre: $93
  • Extrapolated statewide value of fungicide/bactericide savings: $217,500

Maine Extension – Maine State Pomological Society Scouting Co-op:

  • 23 participating growers
  • Average of 2.4 blocks per grower per week
  • 15 weekly visits, average of 55 blocks per week
  • Total number of block reports: 825

2019 developments. The Tree Fruit IPM Program, in cooperation with the UMaine Climate Change Institute and the UMaine Dept. of Industrial Cooperation is finalizing capabilities on the subscription based AgEye Weather to replace Skybit Inc. as a source of site-specific real-time hourly forecast and observed NOAA gridded weather reports and data files. Additional crop and pest models will be added to the Ag-Radar decision support system which in 2018 provided twice-daily updates of 30+ apple pest and crop management models per site for 38 sites in the Northeast.

In cooperation with the Extension Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab and the DNA-PCR Lab, the Tree Fruit IPM Program will offer DNA testing for fire blight in 2019.

A very simple and fast, but highly informative survey method started in 2018 was repeated in early 2019 to assess what specific IPM related practices apple growers actually used in 2018. The anonymous survey consists of 45 single line statements about such practices such as “Used monitoring traps for apple maggot fly” or “Did preseason sprayer calibration with measurements and a written record.” Replies have been useful, encouraging in some respects, disappointing in others. It would be interesting to extend this approach to other Northeast states for comparative results.


The Potato IPM Program maintains 200 specialized insect traps, coordinates a statewide network of electronic weather stations, and surveys 100 potato fields on a weekly basis.

In 2017, the Potato IPM Program made over 1200 individual grower contacts and trained over 200 potato industry personnel at conferences and training sessions. Based on conference surveys, improved decision making resulting from training sessions equated to a savings of $216,820. The economic impact of the Potato IPM Program’s insect monitoring was $8,834,260 in 2017, primarily due to late blight scouting.

Sweet Corn

The Sweet Corn IPM Program reaches over half of Maine’s commercial sweet corn growers managing over two thirds of the state’s acreage, and has had an estimated $725,000 annual impact. The post-season survey indicated that 93% of growers receiving information from the Sweet Corn IPM Program were able to decrease production costs as a result.

Estimated insecticide savings are more than three applications per year on more than 3000 acres of sweet corn.


Extension IPM scouts monitor 8 farmer volunteer sites each growing season and the pest management recommendations are delivered to over 65 growers statewide through weekly newsletter, e-mail, and blog updates. Additionally, we have worked with growers to adopt alternative strategies such as pest resistant cultivars, biological controls and insect barriers. The year-end evaluation of growers found that 85% of growers modified their pest management practices as a result of the program and were able to reduce pesticide applications, some by as much as 50%. Most growers indicated an improvement in crop quality, and found that IPM has both reduced pesticide costs (up to $100/acre) and improved crop profitability. The strawberry IPM program was recognized by the National Association of County Agricultural Agents as a national winner of the SARE Search for Excellence in Sustainable Agriculture Program.


The Cranberry IPM Program monitors insect pests and provides online educational resources for growers. As a result, Maine cranberry growers have seen an industry wide increase in annual yield of approximately 20-30%. In 2017, an estimated 70% or $69,300 worth of cranberry yield was saved from an outbreak of blackheaded fireworm and other emerging pests.

Home & Garden / Public Health / Invasive Pests

Outreach efforts of the Home & Garden IPM Program and the Tick Identification Program have significantly increased the number of direct contacts with the public regarding pest management options and the safe, judicious use of pesticides. Beginning in 2019, the free tick ID program is supplemented by PCR testing for presence of Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis at $15 per tick, for Maine state residents only.

An informational tick website provides Maine a wide range of resources on tick biology, ecology, management, and personal protection. Additional public outreach through multiple public speaking engagements and media interviews has also helped increase public awareness.

Outreach has also continued on a number of home and garden pests including bed bugs, Japanese beetles, white grubs, and browntail moth. The area affected by browntail moth and its skin and respiratory irritating hairs has increased over the past two years. The Extension IPM program continues to cooperate with state and Maine Medical Center outreach and research efforts on pests of medical importance and potential and emerging invasive pest risks.

A new pesticide safety education training manuals is nearing completion for mosquitoes, ticks, and browntail moth.

Other IPM Program Developments

In July 2018, the IPM Program moved into the new $12+ million UMaine Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory, along with the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab and the Aquatic Animal Health Lab.

Upon request by Maine IPM Coordinator James Dill, Senator Susan Collins has requested that the Federal IPM budget be protected from elimination, and a $10 million increase in the budget. Senator Collins’ interaction with USDA Secretary Perdue found that he has experience and a favorable opinion of IPM.

Several long time IPM Extension and research faculty have retired recently. Positions have been/are being refilled.

Maine Input for Discussion Topics

Spotted lanternfly (SLF). SLF has not been detected in Maine as of early 2019. We are distributing information generated by Penn State and Cornell to tree fruit and grape growers. If SLF is limited to plant hardiness zone 5, that would restrict to south coastal Maine for time being, though continued temperature increases have already altered Maine plant hardiness zone ratings.

Pollinators. The Maine Pesticide Safety Education Program recently offered two half-day workshops on pollinator protection and enhancement. The Maine Board of Pesticides Control hosted a pollinator protection stakeholder summit three years ago, and is considering another one in the coming year. The Ag-Radar system includes forecasts of honey bee foraging activity based on relationships between temperature, wind, sunlight, and rain and the relative intensity of honey bee foraging.

Ticks: Discussed in IPM Program summary.

Pesticides. With regard to chlorpyrifos, chlorothalonil, and the neonicotinoid insecticides, the Maine IPM program will respond as needed to Federal regulatory decisions. Regarding glyphosate, UMaine lawyers, in reaction to the recent liability judgment in California, now require that a half-page disclaimer be used wherever glyphosate is mentioned.

IPM and invasive species. At the state level, Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry oversees both IPM and Invasive species staff and programs. The UMaine Extension IPM Program cooperates with those efforts, including conducting USDA-APHIS-CAPS exotic pest surveys when visiting vegetable farms and orchards for IPM scouting.