- Agronomic: potatoes
- Crop Production: cropping systems
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, other
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture
Colorado potato beetle (CPB) represents the most damaging insect pest of potatoes in the northern hemisphere and displays a long history of rapidly evolving pesticide resistance. The beetle currently exhibits insensitivity to over 50 diﬀerent pesticide chemistries and nearly all insecticide mode-of-action groups. Most farmers dealing with CPB pressure rely heavily upon relatively few pesticide chemistries (e.g. spinosad for organic and neonicotinoids for conventional). In fact, for organic growers, the only rotational option outside of spinosad is the biopesticide Bt. However, over the past several years, the only commercially available formulation of Bt suitable for CPB control has exhibited limited shelf stability. As a result, the primary supplier of the pesticide has halted the production of Bt on several occasions, in an attempt to develop a more stable formulation.
Due to shorter and cooler growing seasons in the northeast, small-to-medium diversiﬁed farms (<100 acres) in New England, especially Maine and Vermont, rely substantially on potatoes as a fresh market storage crop (~1700 farms). Provided this investment in potatoes, we will focus our eﬀorts on diversiﬁed farms with signiﬁcant investments in potato. We will also look to engage with a variety of both conventional and organic growers, as we attempt to expand the potential IPM toolbox for all growers struggling with CPB populations.
Through the proposed research and education program, our team will look to identify the best practices currently employed by growers in the New England region with a particular emphasis on the manipulation of planting dates for creating phenological asynchrony (PA) between potatoes and their primary insect pests. Moreover, our team will look to address any knowledge gaps to better support both experienced and novice growers interested in deploying PA tactics or looking to develop their own strategies to disrupt the life cycle of CPB and other relevant pests (e.g. PLH, potato aphid, etc.).
The proposed project represents one of our teams' most exciting, important, low-risk, and well supported endeavors. We are confident that there is a wealth of untapped knowledge within the northeastern farming community related to planting dates and pest management in potato cropping systems. This project affords us the opportunity to uncover (and add to) that knowledge and develop a cohesive and effective educational program to share that knowledge. In addition, because our research trials were conceived to evaluate the agronomic tradeoffs related to different planting dates, any data collected will provide valuable information for understanding the effects of phenology on potato yields, pest management, and marketability.
Performance targets from proposal:
Fifteen growers adopt Colorado potato beetle management strategies on 20 acres of planted potato, reporting estimated average recovery of losses of $1000/acre.