- Agronomic: rice
- Fruits: apples, cherries, general tree fruits
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, on-farm/ranch research
- Pest Management: biological control, integrated pest management, weather monitoring
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Plum curculio is a major tree fruit feeding pest throughout its range eastern and Midwest North America. Through continuing on-farm trials and demonstrations, we seek to increase orchard grower and small-scale myco-industry awareness of economic and ecological potential of the strategy for suppression of the tree fruit pest plum curculio. Trials will involve drilling entomopathogenic fungus-colonized grain into the soil zone where the previously untargeted plum curculio soil life stages reside. Plum curculio populations will be monitored within plots and fungus persistence will be quantified over time. Results of this research will cascade into the outcome of a wider availability of alternative, more sustainable pest control options for not only tree fruit growers but various other crops. This research also affords the opportunity to investigate any negative impacts on non-target insect populations where the fungus is applied within orchard systems. Lastly, native isolates of fungi will be contributed to a national collection for future investigations into more highly host-specific strains. Results will be actively disseminated to the public, scientific and grower community through scientific, grower and public meetings sponsored by Michigan State University’s far-reaching extension services.
Project objectives from proposal:
Short-term outcomes primarily focus on developing awareness of economic and ecological potential of granular formulations of entomopathogenic fungi in the organic tree fruit producing community for suppressing plum curculio populations. Dissemination of our project results to current members of the mycopesticide industry will encourage investment in an EPA label change for current products to allow orchard use, resulting in ability of a core group of organic growers who have large enough farms to afford any associated risk to adopt the product. The initial adoption by a core group of organic tree fruit growers would lead to the intermediate outcome of broad adoption among all organic tree fruit growers. This would also spill over into minor adoption by conventional growers who are sustainable minded or have major problems controlling plum curculio.
It is likely that, with inevitable further legislation limiting chemical options for pest suppression, this method would eventually be picked up by producers in a wide array of crops for many different pests, coinciding with the development of more host-specific entomopathogenic fungi (EPF) strains.