A biocontrol treatment developed to help Northern New York alfalfa growers is now showing early promise of proving useful to New York apple growers.
Early field trials in four NY orchard plantings have shown a reduction of 70 to 97 percent, compared with untreated plantings, in the populations of plum curculio, a key pest of eastern U.S. apple crops.
With long-term funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields developed a biocontrol protocol for using a combination of native New York nematodes to reduce alfalfa snout beetle populations in NNY alfalfa crops.
Shields and Cornell colleague Art Agnello are now applying nematodes to control plum curculio in organic-production apple plantings.
Note: The NNYADP has three new on-farm demonstration projects on dairy farms in Northern New York showing the value of using the nematodes to reduce alfalfa snout beetle/ASB populations. Those farms are in the North Bangor/Malone area in Franklin County, at Brier Hill in St. Lawrence County, and in Turin/Lewis County.
The NNYADP is also funding the selective breeding of alfalfa snout beetle-resistant varieties of alfalfa to give farmers a one-two punch for managing ASB.