Maryland IPM Report, 2020

NEERA meeting: May 12, 2020

Submitted by Kelly Hamby, MD IPM Coordinator

Situation: Maryland (MD) is a heavily urbanized, densely populated state bordering the Chesapeake Bay, with ~32% of its total land area used for farming. The proximity between agriculture, environmentally sensitive areas, and human populations necessitates the implementation of sustainable IPM practices that reduce risks to human health and the environment. As the single largest commercial industry in MD, agricultural profitability and production must also be prioritized. MD produces a broad diversity of agricultural commodities, and our IPM programming targets pollinator health, fruit and vegetable crops, green industries, communities, and agronomic crops. The COVID-19 pandemic and its lasting repercussions on MD IPM has become our most challenging issue. Despite this challenge, we continue to address:

Pest Diagnostics

  • Improving diagnostic capacity and training new agents using virtual plant clinics
  • Diagnosing issues using MD’s plant diagnostic laboratory

Pollinator Health

  • Improving health of managed bees
  • Increasing pollinator habitat

IPM in Fruit and Vegetable Crops

  • Identifying Colletotrichum spp. causing anthracnose in VA, MD, PA to detect potential spread of a more serious species and improve anthracnose management
  • Evaluating and improving the strawberry advisory system as a predictor of real-time disease incidence
  • Improving management of late season bunch rots
  • Developing a fungicide resistance testing service for MD small fruit
  • Improving spotted wing drosophila management in small fruit
  • Biological control of red legged winter mite in vegetables and herbs
  • Evaluating herbicide weed control in pumpkins and snap beans
  • Using cover crops for ecosystems services and weed management in vegetables

IPM in Green Industries

  • Increasing sustainability of nursery, greenhouse, and landscape management practices
  • Developing unmanned aerial vehicles as IPM tools in nurseries
  • Developing biological control approaches for emerald ash borer
  • Improving brown marmorated stink bug management

IPM in Communities

  • Increasing homeowner adoption of IPM through Master Gardener programming
  • Impact of homeowner landscape management practices on ecological diversity

IPM in Agronomic Crops

  • Determining biocontrol contributions of spiders in agricultural drainage ditches
  • Improving variety selection using statewide grain variety trials
  • Reducing insecticide use through better understanding of pest pressure and efficacy
  • Monitoring for resistant to Bt traits using sentinel sweet corn plots (we coordinate trials throughout east coast)
  • Determining Dectes stem borer pest status, phenology, and monitoring approaches
  • Improving weed management, particularly for herbicide tolerant weeds

Invasive Species Response

  • Increasing citizen awareness of spotted lanternfly and boxwood blight issues
  • Providing a tick identification service to better understand Asian longhorned tick distribution

Response: University faculty, staff, and other IPM partners conduct applied research to evaluate the efficacy of pest management practices and to develop novel sustainable tactics. Much of our work is performed in collaboration with stakeholders to develop practical solutions that will be adopted. We also perform demonstrations on stakeholders’ properties as well as at University facilities to encourage adoption of best management practices. We educate face-to-face at extension meetings, field days, workshops, train-the-trainer events, in-service trainings, and through booths at events. Numerous print and web-based newsletters, publications, announcements, and updates are provided in addition to media broadcasts, social media presence, online videos, and other approaches to disseminate timely research-based information. University of Maryland Extension is currently assessing the needs of its staff and faculty to determine the infrastructure and knowledge needed to expand our ability to telecommute and deliver programming online.

Outputs and Impacts

University of Maryland Extension

  • Provide research-based, informal education to over 421,536 Marylanders, with 49,561 educational programs and one-on-one consultations providing agriculture and food systems content
  • 6,500 downloads of UME publications
  • Nutrient management planning and information was applied to 260,187 acres, through review of 1,364 Nutrient Management Plans

Pest Diagnostics

  • UMD pest diagnostic lab processed 775 samples in 2019
  • Virtual plant clinics in which Extension personnel share photographs and discuss inseason issues were first piloted with 3 sessions in 2017 and have been continued with ~6 meetings from May–September each year
    • 21 Extension faculty completed an impact and needs assessment survey; all participants indicated that the virtual plant clinics increased their knowledge of field conditions, plant diseases, insects, and disorders as well as improved their understanding of production challenges in other parts of the state and improved communication between educators and specialists; in addition 75% indicated that the virtual style increased their ability to participate to a moderate or large degree
    • A publication describing this method has been accepted in Journal of Extension

Pollinator Health

  • A national survey of honey bee pests and diseases has been funded annually since 2009 by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and conducted in collaboration with the University of Maryland vanEngelsdorp Honey Bee Lab, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and State Apiary Specialists.
    • Over the past 10 years, this nation-wide survey has become the most comprehensive honey bee pest and health survey to date, and provides essential disease and pest load base line information.

IPM in Production Agriculture

  • Conducted training for over 2,000 participants from the commercial horticulture industry, including fruits and vegetables, ornamentals such as trees and shrubs, and landscaping.
  • Weed management studies are being conducted in pumpkins and snap beans with promising results for additional herbicides and strategies that farmers can use. The research mentioned that farmers’ response to the work has been a highlight, and that results have generated good questions, discussion, and future research suggestions from stakeholders. 420 producers have been reached at winter meetings and twilight tours, with 2 Extension newsletter articles, and 2 presentations at the Northeaster Plant, Pest, and Soils Conference.
  • A graduate student in the Department of Entomology has been working on a SARE graduate student funded project to study agricultural drainage ditches as sources of spider abundance to enhance conservation biocontrol in neighboring croplands. He is working directly with an MD organic farm and has identified 31 spider genera across 14 families occurring in and around drainage ditches. He observed that spider abundance is highest in ditches early in the summer, but spreads into croplands as the season progresses, suggesting spiders migrate to croplands to take advantage of the increased habitat structure and prey available in growing crops. 5 undergraduate students have gained experience in spider sampling, and 2 undergraduate students have gained experience in spider identification. Results from this study were presented to 50 stakeholders at the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association winter meeting, included in an Extension newsletter article, and presented at 3 Entomological Society of America meetings.
  • A partnership with University of Delaware and Virginia Tech Extension conducted applied research on herbicide-resistant weed management and offered 11 one-day workshops about herbicide resistant weeds and how to manage them that reached 370 producers in 2018 and 2019.
  • In 2017, the red legged winter mite Penthaleus dorsalis was recognized as a new pest for the Northeast in winter vegetables and herbs grown in high tunnels from November through March, and reports of growers having problems with these mites have come in from CT, DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY,PA, RI, and Canada. Most of the damage is being done to organic winter vegetables and available cultural control practices did not align with growers’ production goals for the next crop. A predatory soil mite Stratiolaelaps scimitus that is released in the summer in high tunnels with mite problems may be a good alternative, as preliminary data suggests. More comprehensive trials will take place this summer—coronavirus willing.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) equipped with thermal and infrared cameras were used to detect abnormal plants and then physically examined to identify stressors in nurseries. This technology accurately identified plants under water stress from clogged emitters and is being explored to as an option for detecting scale infestation and outbreaks. In addition, on farm trials were conducted with UAV sprayers at 7 field grown nurseries to determine conditions where spot applications could be effectively made with UAVs. Initial trials were conducted with water and approval has been received for experiments spot treating pesticides in nursery settings.
  • An annual 5-day IPM Scout School for green industry professionals has been conducted for the last three years, with the first 3 days devoted to IPM topics and the final two days focused on synthesis of information and working through scenarios. In 2019 16 professionals participated.
  • In 2019, a Herbaceous Perennial Problem Solving Workshop was held in July at a large perennial nursery and included hands-on stations covering topics such as disease diagnostics, insect and mite management, use of native herbaceous perennials, best water management practices, and use of growth regulators. Over 80 participants were divided into small groups to work with disease and insect specimens, and water testing equipment. A demonstration of drone use for plant inventory and plant health evaluation was included.
  • An annual Biological Control Conference has been held for the last 4 years brining in speakers from several US states as well as Ontario to discuss practical biological control in nurseries, greenhouses and landscapes. In 2019 over 160 stakeholders participated. We conducted a pre-conference survey to find out how many attendees had tried biological control and 32% had tried one method or practice. At the conclusion of the meeting we surveyed again and 91% said they planned to try one or more biological control practices.

IPM in Communities

  • Ask and Expert Online Service helps solve problems in our communities
    • 7,510 questions were answered in 2019, 13% more than 2018 and 37% more than 2017
    • 1, 875 people responded to the 2019 online impact survey: 88% of respondents were satisfied with the service and 59% of respondents changed a practice or behavior
  • Maryland Master Gardener’s program educates citizens
    • 2,371 master gardener volunteers donated 112,788 hours valued at $3.23 million dollars and educated 89,071 people
  • Home and garden information center provides information through its blog, website, and newsletter
    • Maryland Grows blog reached 533 subscribers with 73 new posts and 77% more pageviews than 2018
    • Newsletter reached 8,789 subscribers, was delivered to 34,961 people, and was opened by 14,991
    • The HGIC website had 1.57M pageviews, 48% more than 2018

Invasive Species Response

  • Developed and distributed promotional materials for spotted lanternfly as well as ID cards for spotted lanternfly and boxwood blight
  • Received 200 tick samples (since fall 2018) and identified ~300 ticks from these samples