West Virginia IPM Report, 2021

NEERA meeting: April 23, 2021

Rakesh Chandran, IPM Coordinator, Extension Weed Specialist

The IPM team members in West Virginia have been carrying out Extension IPM programs in primarily in the areas of Specialty Crops (Tree Fruit, Vegetables, and Urban Horticulture (Master Gardeners)).

Staff changes. Dr. Carlos Quesada was appointed as the Extension Entomologist during summer of 2020. Dr. Adeola Ogunade was appointed as the Evaluation Specialist in 2020. Both Carlos and Adeola are Co-PI’s on the EIP grant submitted. Dr. Jorge Atiles was appointed as the Dean of WVU Extension Service in 2020.

Significant outputs of past 12 months:

  1. Termination of EQIP cost-share program for one commercial orchard in the Potomac Valley Conservation District, and continuation of two additional orchards in the Eastern Panhandle District.
  2. Continued publication of quarterly IPM Chronicle newsletter.
  3. Ongoing statewide experiments to correlate growing degree-day and soil temperature on the germination of two invasive annual grasses, Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), and joint-head arthraxon (Arthraxon hispidus).
  4. Continued programming in Greenhouse and High Tunnel IPM.
  5. Display materials (Poster, yard-signs, brochures) developed for participants of Tree Fruit IPM Plan (to be displayed in the Farm Markets).
  6. Three IPM Mini-grants funded to evaluate the use of cover crops in orchards, physical methods to manage cucurbit pests, and validation of prediction models to control fire-blight.

Success Stories

Approximately 300 acres of apple is currently carrying out the Tree Fruit IPM plan. IPM practices implemented by the growers included application of pesticides based on threshold levels, use of semio-chemicals and reduced-risk pesticides, partial application in orchards, along with application under proper environmental conditions. Results of a 3-yr replicated demonstration of mating disruption to control peach-tree borers in peach orchards generated grower interest and was published in Insects (Frank et al. 2020).

High tunnel and greenhouse growers participating in utilization of beneficial insects found as a high as a 100% increase in control of pest populations. In addition, at least two growers work with insectaries to supply beneficials as part of their IPM program. IPM specialists have been routinely engaged in carrying out Extension programs in specialty crops and Urban Horticulture. Integrated Disease Management program in tree fruit provided recommendations to manage scab, fire-blight, and sooty mold diseases, based on forecast models, to growers to spray only when needed. This also helped reduce the risk of resistance buildup in the respective fungal and bacterial causal organisms. Customized weather stations with built-in disease prediction models were installed at additional locations in the state by collaborating with NEWA and are now fully operational at the tree fruit-growing region of the state. We were able to document self-reported increases in knowledge and skills learned, and an increase in the number of growers that use monitoring tools. Growers followed weather events and disease predictions received from us to protect fruits from diseases.

For vegetable disease management we released two varieties of tomato (Mountaineer Pride and Mountaineer Delight) with increased resistance capability towards Septoria Leaf Spot as well as Late Blight and Wilt diseases (Verticillium and Fusarium wilt). We distributed 2,500 seed packets during the current cycle to encourage growers to implement these host-resistance traits thereby reducing the use of fungicides. Spread of vegetable diseases, specifically cucurbit downy mildew (CDM) and late blight of tomato and potato was also tracked through CDM-IPMPIPE and USAblight.org, respectively. AgAlerts were provided to growers to take preventative measures when it was necessary.

In weed management, through statewide field research, we are now able to predict the germination period of two invasive grasses in West Virginia, jointhead Arthraxon (Arthraxon hispidus) and Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) using a growing degree day (GDD) model. A pilot cost-share program to employ an integrated approach to manage weeds in pastures was launched in the state as a result of working closely with WVCA by generating an implementation. A live weed-collection was displayed at the West Virginia State Fair, Marshall County Fair, and the State Small Farm Conference.

One of the goals has been to popularize and introduce the concepts of IPM not only to the farming community but also to the public in general i.e., the consumers. For the period 2017– 2020, 783 people had gone through the Extension Master Gardener Program, 635 people have participated in IPM-related programming at the Extension Master Gardener Annual Conferences. Specialists are also co-authors on regional Pest Management Guides for Tree Fruits, Vegetables, and Agronomic Crops during the past three years. Quarterly issues of ‘The IPM Chronicle’ were published during the past cycle. This newsletter continues to receive wide readership both within and outside the state. Factsheets, pamphlets, IPM bulletins, pest ID information (Weed of the Week, emergent pests etc.), were also published. A section of WVU Extension Service website is dedicated to articles generated by the IPM Team which witnessed about 25,000 page-views during 2020 with over 11,000 unique views.

We created an IPM trifold brochure containing graphics and condensed information that could be passed on to the end-user during Extension events and a mobile IPM Booth that could be set up during such events. During the past three years, the IPM Team participated the Small Farm Conference and State Fair (except in 2020 when it was canceled). IPM booths with brochures were set up at these events. We compiled electronic mailing lists for greenhouse and high tunnel producers, tree fruit growers, vegetable producers, small farm producers, and Master Gardeners to provide timely information related to IPM. Evaluations of various programming efforts indicated that the ability/understanding of participants improved in all areas including: IPM practices, identification of pests, scouting/monitoring, non-chemical pest management measures, selection of chemical sprays, pollinator safety, understanding of pesticide labels, matching signal-words with toxicity ratings, safe pesticide storage, handling and disposal of pesticide spills, balancing plant nutrition, and identifying mineral deficiencies.

Weed ID Fact-Sheets. Apart from routine weed identification and management assistance in 2020, six fact-sheets related to identification and management of problem weeds as web-based publications were generated. They were disseminated through social media to WVU Extension clientele during the growing season (May–October).

Respectfully Submitted By:

Rakesh Chandran, IPM Coordinator, Extension Weed Specialist

Team Members:

Carlos Quesada, Former Extension Entomologist

Mahfuz Rahman, Extension Plant Pathologist

Mirjana Danilovich, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist

Adeola Ogunade, Evaluation Specialist

Barbara Liedl, Associate Professor (WVSU Collaborator, Controlled Environment IPM)

Whitney Dudding, IPM/Plant Diagnostics Associate