Providing Farmers with New Brassica Species - Management Options of Flea Beetles for Expanding Markets in Mass. - Conn.

Final Report for LNE01-142

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $135,632.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $83,150.00
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Frank Mangan
University of Massachusetts
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Project Information

Summary:

Over the course of this project, over fifty farmers in Massachusetts and Connecticut were given seeds, production and marketing information for new brassica species. Research on flea beetle management was conducted at two research stations as well as on cooperating grower’s fields. All cooperating growers were visited on a regular basis during the growing seasons to address production and flea beetle management issues. Information was also provided via the web where information on production, insect management and disease control of the main types of brassica given to the cooperating farmers was made available. The information obtained by the project on production of brassica, marketing and flea beetle management was disseminated via twilight meetings, extension and professional talks, extension and professional publications, and on the web. There were 40 publications and 43 presentations as part of this work. At the end of the project, 21 participating growers added one or more new brassica species/varieties to their crop mix on their farm. Among 38 growers interviewed for adoption of flea beetle management practices, 11 adopted one or more of the flea beetle management practices introduced as part of this project. In 2005, interviews and conversations with additional growers indicated that use of spinosad was more widespread. At least three additional growers used this product in 2005.

Introduction:

The number of immigrants is increasing in the Northeast, with many concentrated in urban areas where they represent a strong potential market for local farmers. Many popular Asian vegetables in the brassica family are grown and harvested differently from European cole crops, and are more susceptible to flea beetles. A pilot project with Asian brassicas showed that flea beetles can be a major pest, especially in the spring. Over fifty farmers who sell both retail and wholesale with markets that had the portential to introduce these brassica species were given seed and/or transplants along with production and marketing information for these new crops. Originally, the focus of this project was on Asian brassica and markets, but this expanded to non-Asian brassica and markets, in particular Brazilian. Advertising was used in several ways to promote these brassica species. These included advertisements in ethnic newspapers (Vietnamese, Portuguese, Chinese), ethnic cable stations (Portuguese), and press releases to ethnic media that led to featured articles in newspapers. Replicated trials in Massachusetts and Connecticut were implemented to identify both organic and non-organic methods for managing flea beetles and their damage throughout the season. These methods were further evaluated through on-farm trials. Growers were asked about their history of success or failure with flea beetle management, including asking for an estimate of product losses or unsold product due to flea beetle damage. In Year 4 of the project, after all other activities ended, project participants were interviewed to get their input on all aspects of the project and to find out if they adopted a new brassica species/variety in their crops mix, and to find out if they adopated a new management practice for flea beetle. Based on these interviews, 21 participating growers adopted one or more new brassica species/variety and made them part of their annual crop production. This is lower than the target goal of 25 growers. One reason for this lower number is that it was not possible to contact all growers, and also some of the growers who participated in the first couple of years of this project were no longer farming in 2005. Among 38 growers interviewed for adoption of flea beetle management practices, 11 adopted one or more of the flea beetle management practices introduced as part of this project. In 2005, interviews and conversations with additional growers indicated that use of spinosad was more widespread. At least three additional growers used this product in 2005.

Performance Target:

New Brassica species:

1. Spring 2001: Contact 50 farmers. Over 50 farmers were invited to participate in this project.

2. Summer 2001: Brassica seeds given to 40 farmers. Forty growers in Massachusetts and Connecticut were given up to $50/farm of brassica seeds to grow and market at their farms.

3. Fall 2001/ Winter 2002: Interview 40 cooperating growers and invite them to a grower meeting. At the end of the field season all cooperating growers were interviewed on their experiences with all aspects of production and marketing of these crops. A meeting was held at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge Mass on February 7, 2002. A total of 30 people were present at the meeting, including 22 cooperating growers. All aspects of the project were discussed with the growers.

4. Spring 2002: Give brassica to 40 growers. Thirty-eight growers in Massachusetts and Connecticut were given up to $50/farm of brassica seeds to grow and market at their farms. Forty growers were identified to grow these brassica species, but only 38 growers planted the crops.

6. Fall/winter 2004: Interview growers on adoption. Twenty-one growers adopted a new brassica variety to their crop mix, or was growing a brassica species at a different time of the season. This is lower than the target goal of 25 growers. One reason for this lower number is that a few of the participating farmers in the first couple of years of this project were no longer farming in 2005.

Flea beetle research:

1. Summer 2001: Replicated flea beetle (FB) trials in MA and CT. FB monitored on 6 farms. Trials conducted and flea beetle monitored on cooperating farms.

2. Fall 2001/winter 2002: Present results to participants and to other growers in meetings and publications. Identify promising management options. Report given to coopering growers at meeting held in Sturbridge, Mass. on February 7, 2002.

3. Summer of 2002: Repeat replicated FB trials. Conduct on-farm FB mgt trials on 12 farms. Results form these trials are reported.

4. Winter of 2002/2003: Present results to participants and other growers. Results presented to cooperating growers at meeting held on Valley Laboratory in Windsor, Connecticut on January 9, 2003. A second meeting was held in Westborough Massachusetts on March 27, 2003 with a focus on flea beetle management. Fifteen growers were present.

5. Spring/summer 2003: Seven growers participated in on-farm research during this field season. Two growers conducted more than one trial per farm. At the grower meeting in January and March, growers favored conducting replicated trials on each farm, in small plots, rather than non-replicated larger demonstrations. This resulted in fewer growers being able to conduct the trials, and more attention being paid to each trial.

6. Fall/winter 2004: The results of flea beetle trials were analyzed and written for publication. The results were also disseminated through meetings, Fact sheets, posters and web site. Final grower meeting was conducted on March 4, 2004 to share results of all trials. The growers participating in the project were interviewed for adoption of flea beetle management practices.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Ruth Hazzard
  • Kim Stoner

Research

Materials and methods:

A. Adoption of new brassica varieties.

Farmers were recruited to trial new brassica varieties through various methods. These included announcements at grower meetings, articles in Extension newsletters, and individual contacts. Each brassica variety that participating farmers grew on their farms was documented, and this was used as baseline data to document an adoption of a new variety.

Each cooperating grower was given $50 worth of seed of the varieties that they wanted to trial. In some cases the seed was bought and delivered, in other cases the farmer was reimbursed for the seed they purchased. Production information on new varieties was provided to each grower that needed them. Information was also added to the UMass Vegetable webpage, http://www.umassvegetable.org, and to a Northeast-SARE sponsored webpage, www.worldcrops.org.

Activities to encourage the sales of these varieties were implemented. The focus was on different ethnic groups to shop at farmers’ markets in their communities where cooperating growers were selling these new varieties. These included advertisements in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Portuguese.

B. Flea beetle pesticide trials

From 2001 to 2003, four sets of pesticide trials have been performed to evaluate a variety of pesticides for use against flea beetle damage on brassicas (particularly leafy varieties) for both organic and conventional growers. In 2003, five growers conducted a total of seven replicated experiments in beds of arugula greens that were divided into small plots. Five experiments compared row cover and/or weekly applications of spinosad (Entrust) with uncovered, unsprayed arugula. This material was of particular interest to these organic farmers because it was newly approved by the NOP and has shown efficacy in our pesticide trials. One grower compared use of eight-foot water tubes to soil-filled poly bags for weighting the edges of row cover, especially at the ends of raised beds. One compared several row cover weights during midsummer to evaluate both flea beetle damage and crop growth. In addition, one grower used two organic insecticides (Entrust and Pyganic) on larger plantings of succession-planted greens.

Research results and discussion:

New Brassica species:

1. Spring 2001: Contact 50 farmers.

2. Summer 2001: Brassica seeds given to 40 farmers.

3. Fall 2001/ Winter 2002: Interview 40 cooperating growers and invite them to a grower meeting.

4. Spring 2002: Give brassica to 40 growers.

6. Fall/winter 2004: Interview growers on adoption.

Flea beetle research:

1. Summer 2001: Replicated flea beetle (FB) trials in MA and CT.

2. Fall 2001/winter 2002: Present results to participants and to other growers in meetings and publications.

3. Summer of 2002: Repeat replicated FB trials. Conduct on-farm FB mgt trials on 12 farms.

4. Winter of 2002/2003: Present results to participants and other growers.

5. Spring/summer 2003: Seven growers participated in on-farm research during this field season.

6. Fall/winter 2004: The results of flea beetle trials were analyzed and written for publication.

Participation Summary

Education

Educational approach:

Publications
1. Hazzard, R. 2005. Materials for Beating Flea Beetles in Brassicas. Proceedings of the 2005 New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show. Also posted at
http://www.umassvegetable.org/soil_crop_pest_mgt/insect_mgt/crucifer_flea_beetle.html

2. Andersen, C., R. Hazzard, R. Van Driesche and F. X. Mangan. 2006. Alternative Management Strategies for Control of Phyllotreta cruciferae and Phyllotreta striolata (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) on Brassica rapa in Massachusetts, J. Econ. Entomol. (in press)

3. Andersen, C., R. Hazzard, R. Van Driesche and F. X. Mangan. 2005. Overwintering and Seasonal Patterns of Feeding and Reproduction in Phyllotreta cruciferae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) in the Northeastern United States. J. Environ. Entomol. Vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 794 – 800.

4. El-Jaoual, T. & R. Hazzard. 2004. Management of flea beetles in brassicas; New Entry Farmer Project, Risk Management Agency & UMass Extension. Poster with color photos. http://www.umassvegetable.org/grower_services/new_growers/ index.html

5. Hazzard, R. 2005. Brassica Pest Update. University of Massachusetts Vegetable Notes. Vol.16:7, June 16, 2005.

6. Hazzard, R. 2005. Brassicas: Caterpillars and Flea Beetles. University of Massachusetts Vegetable Notes. Vol.16:9, June 30, 2005

7. Hazzard, R. 2005. Flea Beetle Update. University of Massachusetts Vegetable Notes. Vol.16:13, July 28, 2005.

8. Hazzard, R., C Andersen, R Van Driesche & F. Mangan. Managing flea beetles in Brassicas. Vegetable Notes Vol.15:4, May 15, 2004, pp 3-6.

9. T. Jude Boucher, R. Durgy, R Hazzard & A. Cavanagh. Perimeter trap cropping. Vegetable Notes Vol.15:2, March 30, 2004, pp 2-6.

10. Hazzard, R.V. 2004. Insect Management: managing benefical habitats, using organic instecticides. In Organic vegetable production: proceedings from a three-day serious of meetings, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station,Geneva, NY, January 2003. Pp 136-141.

11. Hazzard, R. V. C. Andersen, M. Verson, F. Mangan. June 2002. Managing Flea Beetles in Brassica Crops. UMass Extension Vegetable Publication # Veg 2-02 (also translated in Khmer and Hmong).

12. Hazzard, R. 2003. New insecticide available for organic growers. Vegetable Notes. May 22. UMass Extension vegetable program. Circulation ~ 300.

13. Andersen, C. and R. Hazzard. 2003. Flea beetle update. Vegetable Notes. May 22. UMass Extension vegetable program. Circulation ~ 300

14. Hazzard, R. 2003. Brassicas: Spring pests are active. Vegetable Notes. June 2. UMass Extension vegetable program. Circulation ~ 300.

15. Andersen, C. and R. Hazzard. 2003. Flea beetle update for August. Vegetable Notes, August 7. UMass Extension vegetable program. Circulation ~ 300

16. Hazzard R. Flea Beetle in Crucifers. UMass Extension Vegetable IPM website. http://www.umassvegetable.org/soil_crop_pest_mgt/broccoli_cabbage/index.html

17. Hazzard, C. Andersen, R. Van Driesche & F. Mangan. 2004. Managing Flea Beetles in Brassicas. Vegetable Notes, Vol.15:4, May 15, 2004, pp 3-6.

18. Mangan, F. C. Casey, A. Rogers, C. Rounds, R. Hazzard, C. Anderson, M. Verson, R. vanDriesche, K. Stoner, K. Johnson, J. Bosch, H. Joseph, A. Heiderman, S. Sun, H. Merheb, J. Patton, E. Grossman, P. Fischer, K. Graham, and D. Webber. 2002. “Production and Marketing Activities on Asian Crops in Massachusetts, USA.” Proceedings of the Interamerican Society for Tropical Horticulture 47th Meeting. Morelos, Mexico. Pp. 98-103.

19. Mangan, F. “Specialty crops series: Chinese broccoli and yu choy.” Vegetable IPM Message. Jul. 5, 2002. Pp. 4-5.

20. Mangan, F. “Producing and marketing vegetable crops for ethnic markets.” Vegetable Notes January, 2002. Pp. 1-5.

21. Mangan, F., T. Andematten. “Specialty crops series: Chinese cabbage and tomatillos for Massachusetts.” Vegetable IPM Message. Aug. 29, 2002. Pp. 2-3.

22. Mangan, F. “It’s not too late to try brassica species this year.” Vegetable IPM Message. Aug. 1, 2002. Pp. 1.

23. Mangan, F. and T. Andematten. “Speciality crop series: Daikon radish and okra for Massachusetts.” Vegetable IPM Message. Aug. 8, 2002. Pp. 1-2.

24. Mangan, F. “Want to try a new brassica species this year?” Vegetable IPM Message. Jul. 11, 2002. Pp. 4-5.

25. Mangan, F. C. Rounds, A. Rogers, and K. Johnson. 2001. Oriental greens –
production practices. Proceedings of New England Vegetable and Berry Conference. Pp.254-256.

26. Mangan, F. 2002. Producing and Marketing Vegetable Crops for Ethnic Markets. Vegetable Notes. Vol. 13, Num. 1. Pp 1-6.

27. Mangan, F. 2004. Sustainable Production for cauliflower (Brassica oleracea). Article for www.worldcrops.org.

28. Mangan, F. 2005. Buying and selling fresh produce at the Chelsea Market. UMass Veg. Notes. Vol. 16. No. 2. pp 4-6.

29. Mangan, F. and M. Moreira. 2004. Vegetais Brasileiros Produzidos Regionalmente
UMass Extension Fact Sheet. www.umassvegetable.org. 2 pages.

30. Mangan, F. and M. Moreira. 2004. Locally Grown Brazilian Crops. UMass Extension Fact Sheet. www.umassvegetable.org. 2 pages

31. Mangan, F.. 2004. Sustainable Production for Chinese broccoli (Brassica oleracea ). Article for www.worldcrops.org.

32. Mangan, F. 2004. Sustainable Production for Yu Choi (Brassica rapa). Article for www.worldcrops.org.

33. Mangan, F. 2004. Sustainable Production for cabbage (Brassica oleracea). Article for www.worldcrops.org.

34. Mangan, F. 2004. Sustainable Production for collards (Brassica oleracea). Article for www.worldcrops.org.

35. Mangan, F., M. Moreira, and T Martuscelli. 2003. Produção e comercialização de sementes a população de falantes de português em Massachusetts. UMass Extension Fact Sheet. VEG03-01-P. 4 pages.

36. Mangan, F., M. Moreira, and T Martuscelli. 2003. Production and Marketing of Crops to the Portuguese-Speaking Peoples in Massachusetts. VEG03-01-P

37. Mangan, F. and T. Martuscelli. 2003. Translations of fruits and vegetables sold at farmers markets. UMass Extension fact sheet. www.umassvegetable.org. 1 page.

38. Mangan, F. and T. Martuscelli. 2003. Farmers’ market buying guide. UMass Extension fact sheet. www.umassvegetable.org. 1 page

39. Mangan, F. And T. Martuscelli. 2003. Guía de compra del farmers’ market. UMass Extension fact sheet (In Spanish). www.umassvegetable.org. 1 page

40. Mangan, F. And T. Martuscelli. 2003. Guia de compras do farmers’ market. UMass Extension fact sheet (In Portuguese). www.umassvegetable.org. 1 page

Presentations
1. Hazzard R. 2005. Materials for Beating Flea Beetles in Brassicas. 2005 New England Vegetable and Fruit Conference and Trade Show, December 15, 2005, Manchester NH.

2. Hazzard, R. 2005 Vegetable pests: hands on tour. NOFA Summer Conference, Amherst, MA August 2005. (included flea beetle management) (30)

3. R. Hazzard. Insect management in vegetables. Eastern Mass CRAFTS Farm tour, Nu Yang’s farm, Bolton Flats, July 13, 2005 (25) (included flea beetle)

4. R. Hazzard. Organic insect management in vegetables. Field workshop for incubator farmers and interns, Southside Land Trust/ Urban Edge Farm, Providence, RI, June 2005. (included flea beetle management) (12)

5. R. Hazzard. Insect management. Workshops (indoor and field) for New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. January and May 2005, Lowell, MA. (total, 40)

6. R. Hazzard. Basics of insect management. New Entry Farmer Training Program, Tufts University and UMass Extension Vegetable Program. February 1, 2004, Lowell, MA 40 (included flea beetles)

7. R. Hazzard. January 23, 2004. Trap crops and other tricks for keeping beetles and bugs at bay. Northeast Organic Farming Association of Massachusetts Winter Conference, Barre, MA. 20

8. R V Hazzard, C. Andersen, R. Van Driesche, F. X. Mangan. Flea beetle management in brassica greens. New England Vegetable and Berry Conference, December 18, 2003, Manchester, NH. 110

9. Durgy, R. and R. Hazzard. 2004. Using perimeter trap crops for insect management in vegetables. NOFA Summer Conference, August 13, 2004, Amherst, MA. Attendance 45.

10. Hazzard R, K. Stoner, C. Andersen, F. Mangan. 2004. Update on flea beetle management: Grower roundtable. March 4, 2004, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Windsor, CT. Attendance 15.

11. Hazzard, R. 2004. Trap Crops and Other Tricks for Keeping Beetles and Bugs at Bay. NOFA-Mass Winter Meeting. January 24. Attendance 30

12. Hazzard, R., C. Andersen, R. Van Driesche and F. Mangan. 2003. Managing flea beetles on brassica greens. New England Vegetable and Berry Conference, December 18. Manchester, NH. Attendance 80.

13. Andersen, C. 2003. Flea beetle Ecology in Western Massachusetts. Entomological Society of America National Conference. October 27. Attendance of ~50.

14. Hazzard R, C. Andersen, F. Mangan, and K. Stoner. 2003. Flea beetle Ecology and Management for Organic growers. Cooperating Grower meeting. January 9. Windsor, CT. Attendance ~10.

15. Hazzard, R. Easy and difficult pests: tools for organic pest management. Organic Vegetable Production Training, Cornell Coop. Extension, Geneva, NY January 14-16, 2003. Attendance ~ 80.

16. Hazzard R., C. Andersen, F. Mangan, K. Stoner. 2003. Flea beetle Ecology and Management for Organic growers. Cooperating Grower meeting. Central MA. March 28, 2003. Attendance ~15.

17. Hazzard, R. and C. Andersen. 2003. Flea beetle Ecology and Management for Organic growers. NOFA Summer conference. August 9. Attendance of ~15.

18. Hazzard, R. and Cavanagh, A. 2003. Trap cropping for Flea beetle Management. UMass Extension field day. August 13. Attendance of ~60.

19. Andersen, C. and R Hazzard. 2003. Flea beetle Management and basic biology. UMass Extension field day. August 13. Attendance of ~60.

20. Mangan, F. 2001. Production and marketing activities on Asian crops in Massachusetts, USA. InterAmercian Society for Tropical Agriculture. Morelos, Mexico

21. Mangan, F. 2001. Oriental greens – production and marketing. New England Vegetable and Berry Conference, Sturbridge MA.

22. Mangan, F. 2002. Introducing Asian crops to Massachusetts. Northeast Meetings of American Society of Horticultural Science. Philadelphia, MA

23. Mangan, F. 2002. Introducing Asian crops to Massachusetts. New Jersey Growers Conference. Atlantic City NJ.

24. Mangan, F. 2002. Ethnic crops for New England. Vermont Growers Association Conference. Barre VT

25. Mangan, F. 2002. Introduction of ethnic crops to urban farmers’ markets. Conference on Urban Agriculture, Dallas, TX

26. Mangan, F. 2002. Ethnic crops for New England. UMass Vegetbale Extension twilight meeting. S. Deerfield MA.

27. Mangan, F. M. Moreira, and T. Martuscelli. Production and Marketing of Agricultural Products for the Growing Brazilian Population in Massachusetts. Conference “Brazil in Bold”. UMass Amherst Massachusetts. Feb. 14, 2004

28. Mangan, F., M. Moreira, and T. Martuscelli. Produção e comercialização de sementes aos grupos de falantes de Português em Massachusetts, EUA. Annual meeting of
InterAmerican Society of Tropical Agriculture. Sept. 10, 2003.

29. Porth, G, F. Mangan, and R. Wick. Evaluación de Estrategias de Control de la Hernia
(Plasmodiophora brassicae Woron) en Brassicaceae. Annual meeting of InterAmerican
Society of Tropical Horticulture. Tegulsigalpa, Honduras. October 7, 2002.

30. Mangan, F., K. Johnson, J. Baranek, M. Anderson, L. Colangione, H. Costello, D. Webber, R. Hazzard, C. Casey, R. Bernatzky, A. Carter, L. Sullivan-Werner, and T. El-Jaoual. 2002. Introduction of Ethnic crops to urban farmers’ markets. Urban Agriculture: Emerging Opportunities in Science, Education, and Policy May 20-23, 2002.

31. Mangan, F., C. Casey, A. Rogers, C. Rounds, R. Hazzard, K. Stoner, K. Johnson, M. Verson, and J. Bosch. 2002. Introducing Asian crops to farmers in Massachusetts. Northeast Region American Society for Horticulral Science. Philadelphia, PA. January 9, 2002.

32. Mangan, F., R. Hazzard, C. Casey, A. Rogers, C. Rounds, K. Johnson, H. Joseph, A.
Heideman, S. Sun, H. Merheb, J. Patton, P. Fischer, K. Graham, K. Stoner, and D.
Webber. 2001. Research and extension on Asian crops for Massachusetts, USA. Annual
meeting of InterAmerican Society of Tropical Horticulture. Oaxtepec, Mexico. October
3, 2001.

33. Mangan, F. 2005. Producing and Selling Ethnic Crops in the Northeastern US; USDA Risk management Conference, Sturbridge MA.

34. Mangan, F. 2005. Ethnic crops that can be grown in Massachusetts, UMass Research Farm Field Day

35. Mangan, F. Locally-grown ethnic vegetables, Meeting of Nutrition Educators, UMass Amherst. April 25, 05

36. Mangan, F. 2003. Marketing of crops to Brazilians at an urban farmers’ market in Massachusetts, USA. Intern. Society for Tropical Horticulture. Fortaleza, Brazil.

37. Mangan, F. 2003. Sustainable vegetable production tour in Massachusetts. Tour for the Am. Soc. for Hort. Science. Massachusetts

38. Mangan, F. Opportunities for growers to produce ethnic crops. Presentation to UMass Extension. Amherst MA.

39. Mangan, F. 2003. Brazilian crops grown and marketed by growers in Massachusetts. Booth at NRE Coll. Day. Amherst, MA.

40. Mangan, F. 2004 Growing and marketing niche ethnic crops. Presentation at the Conn. Grower Ass.. Vernon, CT

41. Mangan, F. 2004. Locally-produced agricultural products for Portuguese-speaking groups. Event as part of the Boston Mayor’s Office “Celebration of Diversity”. Boston, Mass.

42. Mangan, F. 2004. Opportunities for marketing agricultural products to the Brazilian population in Massachusetts. Presentation at EMBRAPA. Fortaleza, Brazil

43. Mangan, F. 2004. Opportunities for marketing agricultural products to the Brazilian population in Massachusetts. Presentation at the Universirty of Pernambuco. Recife, Brazil

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Impacts of Results/Outcomes

A. Adoption of new brassica varieties.

Based on interviews of participating growers at the end of this project, 21 growers
adopted a new brasscia variety to their crop mix.

One farmers’ market targeted in 2003 was in Somerville MA. Flyers were produced in English, Spanish, and Portuguese for USDA Food Stamp and WIC offices. These flyers were also distributed to community-based organizations servicing these groups. The redemption of WIC farmers’ market coupons is tracked at each farmers market by race and ethnicity. The redemption of WIC coupons by Brazilians increased by $1,000 from 2002 to 2003 at this farmers market.

Brazilians were targeted due to their use of collards in their cuisine. A survey implemented at this farmers’ market and other markets of Brazilians showed that over 70% of Brazilians use collards more than once/week.

B. Flea beetle pesticide trials

From 2001 to 2003, four sets of pesticide trials have been performed to evaluate a variety of pesticides for use against flea beetle damage on brassicas (particularly leafy varieties) for both organic and conventional growers. Results from our trial in 2003 were consistent with earlier trials. The use of row coveror carbaryl (Sevin XLRPlus) were most consistent in reducing damage to plants at harvest. Spinosad (in either Spintor 2SC or Entrust formulations) reduced damage compared to untreated plants in some experiments. Another product of interest is the systemic pesticide thiamethoxam (Platinum) which, while not labeled for use on brassicas at this point, has been effective in our field trials at reducing damage to plants during the first two to three weeks of growth. Pyrethin (Pyganic 4EC), another organic product, provided no reduction in flea beetle damage compared to controls in our trials. Estimates of the flea beetle population collected using either yellow sticky traps or direct visual counts of beetles per plant were found to be correlated with damage at harvest, with yellow sticky traps having a stronger positive correlation with damage than direct counts. Thus, yellow sticky cards may provide a means for faster sampling to determine a threshold for spray applications.

Flea Beetle Ecology

Based upon season-long dissections and cage feeding studies with field-collected beetles, we now have evidence that flea beetles on brassicas have two generations in Massachusetts. Eggs were present in adult females from mid May until late August. Our results support the hypothesis that a summer generation of adults emerge in late July and early August and that at least some of these adults produce eggs that will result in a second emergence in the fall. Feeding (and resultant crop damage) peaks in June and again in early August. Our data suggest that peak feeding in August is associated with emergence of new adult beetles. Understanding of the life cycle and when to expect a rise in adult numbers and feeding will help growers use rotation and other controls more effectively. Specifically, growers will be more aware of the need to rotate late plantings to a field that is separate from early-planted brassicas, so that these plants will not be invaded by newly emerged summer adults with a high propensity to feed.
In separate experiments conducted in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, adult flea beetles were found to overwinter primarily in the leaf litter beneath shrubs and wooded areas at the field margins, but not within the soil or in the agricultural field itself.

On-Farm trials

In 2003, five growers conducted a total of seven replicated experiments in beds of arugula greens that were divided into small plots. Five experiments compared row cover and/or weekly applications of spinosad (Entrust) with uncovered, unsprayed arugula. This material was of particular interest to these organic farmers because it was newly approved by the NOP and has shown efficacy in our pesticide trials. One grower compared use of eight-foot water tubes to soil-filled poly bags for weighting the edges of row cover, especially at the ends of raised beds. One compared several row cover weights during midsummer to evaluate both flea beetle damage and crop growth. In addition, one grower used two organic insecticides (Entrust and Pyganic) on larger plantings of succession-planted greens.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences between uncovered, non-sprayed controls and Entrust® treatments in any farm trials where pesticide was tested. However, flea beetle feeding injury was reduced in Entrust® plots. Both controls (4 of 4 trials) and sprayed plots (3 of 4 trials) had significantly higher levels of feeding injury than plots protected with row cover.

Physical barrier methods employing row cover proved to be highly effective. However, based solely on the results from the various participating sites we would conclude that repeated treatments of Entrust® have at best a minimal impact on flea beetle management for small-scale growers of arugula, and perhaps other brassica crops. Several confounding factors may have reduced efficacy of sprays in these trials, including frequent heavy rains, and the close proximity of sprayed and unsprayed plots, which allows re-invasion into sprayed plots.
The use of flexible water-filled tubing was a practical and cost-effective method of anchoring row cover where planting surfaces were particularly irregular, as with raised beds. Tubing, like anchor bags, can be fairly easily moved for cultivating, and provides a somewhat improved seal between the soil surface and row cover. Soil bags may be easier to manage and gave nearly equal control when placed to provide a tight seal.

All row covers of various weights provided significant protection from flea beetle feeding compared to control plots. Among the three row cover weights tested (heavy, medium, and light/non-heating type) there were no significant differences in the degree of feeding injury. Concerning yield the reverse was true – accumulated plant biomass was substantially lower under the conditions created by heavy row cover. Light row cover (P10) had the highest biomass at harvest.

Grower’s comments in surveys included discoveries that were not specifically targeted in the trials. One grower was pleased to discover that after several years of not planting brassicas before the end of July, his flea beetle populations are now so low that he can successfully grow arugula in June. Another had not believed that row cover would work on her farm and now is excited to see that it works very well and that lightweight cover produces better quality in the heat — which will enable her to grow greens all summer. Another realized that he can use either water tubes or soil bags to make his row covers more effective, especially if he pays close attention to the ends of the rows. The growers who use both Pyganic and Entrust on a larger scale concluded that Pyganic is more effective; a result which is the opposite of what was found in the UMass trials.
In 2004, growers participating in Flea Beetle trials were interviewed for the efficiency of different flea beetle management practices. The growers found that late planting, rotation and raw covers were especially efficient in reducing the damage of flea beetles. Among 38 growers interviewed for adoption of lea beetle management practices, 11 adopted one or more of the Flea beetle management practices known about through the project.

In 2005, interviews and conversations with additional growers indicated that use of spinosad was more widespread. At least three additional growers used this product in 2005.

Farmer Adoption

At the end of the project, 21 participating growers added one or more new brassica species/varieties to their crop mix on their farm. Among 38 growers interviewed for adoption of flea beetle management practices, 11 adopted one or more of the flea beetle management practices introduced as part of this project. In 2005, interviews and conversations with additional growers indicated that use of spinosad was more widespread. At least three additional growers used this product in 2005.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Areas needing additional study

The importance of promoting these new varieties to consumers and markets was very important. Based on this work, the success of similar efforts will depend greatly on the ability to implement marketing strategies.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.