Massachusetts IPM Report, 2019

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


Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state; its farm land is very valuable and often sought after for development. Farmers steward over 523,500 acres, >10% of the Massachusetts land base. There are 7,755 farms (of which 2,651 are vegetable, berry, and fruit farms) in Massachusetts. The total number of farms has been steady since 2007, however the number of vegetable farms increased by more than 400 (28%) since 2007. Averaging 68 acres, 95% of Massachusetts farms easily fit the USDA definition of small farms, bringing in less than $64,000 annually. Massachusetts farmers are committed to being efficient business owners and effective pest managers, optimizing the output of their small-scale specialty crop farms to meet consumer demands. Massachusetts farms generate over $490M in total sales per year with 47% from sales of specialty crops such as apples, strawberries, and cucurbits. Massachusetts has almost 300 farmers' markets and ranks first nationally by percentage of farms with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

Goal 1: Improve IPM Practices and Strategies for Emerging and Established Pests

  • Emerging pests that affect multiple specialty crops. UMass Fruit Team members coordinated and maintained monitoring networks for brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), spotted wing drosophila (SWD), winter moth (WM), and scale. Findings were shared with the UMass iPiPE project (Garofalo and Clements).
  • Advanced apple IPM. Five weather station sites are established in southern New England established for the purpose of validating apple scab predictive models used in Decision Support Systems (DSS). Three Mentor Farms in Massachusetts worked with team members to increase their use of cultural controls and reduced-risk pesticides for apple scab and summer diseases. The same growers received additional training on fire blight prediction and management.
  • Brassica IPM. The 2018–2019 issue of the New England Vegetable Management Guide was published in print and on-line, with several project personnel serving as Editor or Contributor.
  • Efficacy of organic pesticides. Two presentations given.

Goal 2A: Increase IPM Implementation and Promote Whole-Farm Sustainability through Outreach and Training Activities

  • Training scouts and IPM implementation on mentor farms. We hosted our annual Advisory Group meeting for the EIP grant. Growers who had previously participated in our program as Mentor Farmers shared their experiences to enhance recruitment of new Mentor Farmers for our new grant. EIP Team members (Lass and Morzuch) gave a presentation on IPM Decision Making and Business Management. In spring 2018, IPM planning sessions were conducted at all Mentor Farms. Farm visits started in April. EIP Economists participated in planning interviews to provide guidance for business and/or economic goals.
  • Provide timely and accurate specialty crop disease/pest diagnostics. Apple scab outbreak consultation was conducted at Mountain Orchard, Granville, MA, on 5 acres of MacIntosh apples. September 2017. Infestations of cranberry scale were confirmed at two different locations in mid-late April 2018.
  • Conduct workshops and training. More than 20 presentations were given during the reporting period to support the EIP Project.
  • Bridge language barriers. We have generated a draft survey to be used as a needs assessment that will guide our future outreach efforts and development of resources for farmers to overcome language barriers on the farm. This assessment tool will be sent out to growers once the team has had a chance to review the survey questions.
  • Promote Commonwealth Quality Program (CQP). Sandler and Sylvia have worked with Botelho and other MDAR staff to create an audit package for cranberries destined for the fresh market. A feedback session with stakeholders was held May 2018 (11 attending). A launch of the cranberry program was planned for summer 2018 but has not yet been released.

Goal 2B: Increase IPM Implementation and Promote Whole-Farm Sustainability through Demonstrating Effective Technological Strategies

  • Digital recordkeeping. Currently growers can log in and access their plans and reports. Work is ongoing to improve this interface.
  • Optimizing technology utilization on specialty crop farms. We met with Skycision, a drone-enabled software company. A flight demonstration was performed on-site at the UMass Cranberry Station and a workshop was conducted (by Skycision personnel) on the applicability and adaptability of UAS for specialty crops.
  • Using Integrated Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (iPiPE). Two undergraduate interns have been hired as result of this project (see Training section). They will work in collaboration with EIP fruit team members to provide additional scouting and trap monitoring at all sites currently participating with the fruit program.
  • Weather stations and sensors. We coordinated a network of 26 RainWise and Onset weather stations. Data were checked weekly and equipment was repaired as needed. Communications with growers about stations and data were accompanied with advice and questions about IPM and decision support systems (DSS). The EIP project finances the link between these 26 stations plus 20 more airport weather stations and New York State NEWA system.

Goal 3: Promote IPM Adoption by Improving and Expanding Skill Capacity and Evaluating Progress

  • Business management and IPM decision making. Lass and Morzuch met with several entering Mentor farmers to provide guidance on business goal planning. The Team reached a consensus to explore the development of an enterprise budget for one vegetable, one small/tree fruit and one cranberry farm for the project.
  • Weed management. As soon as weeds emerged, cataloging of persistent weeds on Partner Farms began. A weed management workshop for organic vegetable farmers was held July 2018.
  • Assessing change in behavior and condition from IPM extension efforts. None to report at this writing.