- Fruits: apricots, cherries, peaches, plums, general tree fruits
- Crop Production: application rate management
- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
- Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mating disruption, prevention, sanitation, traps
- Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
Stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries) are grown on more than a thousand acres throughout New England. They are produced as part of diversified orchard operations, and generate high value, since they are sold, almost exclusively, to the fresh market. A number of pest and disease problems hinder production in our climate. Connecticut growers identified the following as the most serious: plant bugs, borers, plum curculio, bacterial spot, brown rot and peach leaf curl. Unfortunately, there are no precise pest management guidelines for stone fruits; therefore, pest management is primarily focused on pesticide selection and use. We propose a project assisting New England stone fruit growers move toward more sustainable, environmentally friendly, biologically-based integrated management practices. We will use a two-pronged approach for accomplishing this goal; an outreach component for educating growers on currently available methods, and a research component for developing a novel biological control method. The outreach component will address Connecticut stone fruit growers and will focus on increasing awareness and disseminating knowledge on currently available and more sustainable management practices of major stone fruit insects and diseases. This will include producing educational print materials, giving talks at grower meetings, establishing field demonstrations and providing on-site training on scouting, pest identification and best management practices. In the research component we will develop a biological control method against bacterial spot, one of the most prominent diseases in the area, using natural enemies of the pathogen, called bacteriophages or phages (viruses that attack bacteria). 20 Connecticut stone fruit producers will adopt biologically-based integrated management techniques on 200 acres, such as using mating disruption of peach tree borers, using traps and groundcover management to monitor and reduce tarnished plant bug populations, and better timing of fungicide and bactericide applications. This will result in savings of 2,000 pounds pesticide a.i. and $25,000 on production cost each year. In addition, they will substitute newer, less toxic, pesticides for some of the organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides.
Performance targets from proposal:
Outreach Component Milestones and Performance Target
1. 90 Connecticut growers will assess their baseline (via survey) on stone fruit crop management practices including crop losses, major pests and diseases, yield, and pest management strategies used. (90 days)
2. 90 Connecticut growers will receive a manual outlining IPM techniques and sustainable practices for stone fruit production, which will be developed by the project team and will be refined from experiences during the project. (Year 1)
3. Six growers will receive one-on-one field training to help identify pests and learn about conventional and alternative methods of managing pests. (Years 1-3)
4. New stone fruit management guidelines and grower experiences associated with practical implementation will be discussed at the annual winter meetings of the Connecticut Pomological Society in all three years. Also results of phage research will be discussed. 60 growers will attend. (Years 1-3)
5. 40 growers will attend a twilight meeting where new stone fruit management guidelines will be demonstrated. 35 of these growers will attend a second twilight meeting, where the ongoing biocontrol trials will be shown and discussed. (Years 2-3)
6. Stone fruit IPM techniques will be explained and results of peach bacterial spot biocontrol trials will be discussed with 40 growers and 1100 citizens during Plant Science Day of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in August each year (years 1-3)
7. 200 growers from the New England states will learn about the stone fruit management guidelines at the New England Vegetable and Fruit meeting in Manchester, NH. December 2011. (Year 3)
Performance target 20 Connecticut stone fruit producers will adopt biologically-based integrated management techniques on 200 acres, such as using mating disruption of peach tree borers, using traps and groundcover management to monitor and reduce tarnished plant bug populations, and better timing of fungicide and bactericide applications. This will result in savings of 2,000 pounds pesticide a.i. and $25,000 on production cost each year. In addition, they will substitute newer, less toxic, pesticides for some of the organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides.
Research Milestones Component and Performance Target
1. Isolate 40 bacteriophages from New England stone-fruit orchards.
2. Ten phages that show potential as biological control agents based on preliminary laboratory tests will be evaluated in bioassays.
3. Five phages that show potential based on bioassays will be mixed together and used in subsequent greenhouse trials.
4. Three phage-based treatments (phage mixture alone or together with other biological control agents) that provide equal or superior disease suppression compared to the currently used copper/antibiotic-based control methods in greenhouse trials will be chosen for further trials.
5. Two phage-based treatments that provide equal or superior disease suppression compared to the currently used copper/antibiotic-based control methods in orchard trials will be recognized as environmentally friendly alternatives.
Research performance target: Develop effective bacteriophage-based biological control strategy for controlling peach bacterial spot, which would provide an environmentally friendly and feasible alternative to the current chemical-based strategies. Additional target is a publication of the results of this project in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.