Sunday, July 5, 2015

Spotted Wing Drosophila: Monitoring and Management

Why is Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) a concern? This invasive insect primarily attacks blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, strawberries, elderberries, and peaches. Less preferred fruits include grapes and wine grapes, figs, boysenberries, plums, nectarines, and persimmon. Unlike other vinegar flies, SWD attacks sound ripening fruit and once eggs are laid inside fruit, insecticides will provide no control. Thus, it is imperative to control SWD before females lay eggs. Its short lifecycle and overlapping generations make spray timing difficult. An added problem is that for successful control farmers need to spray near harvest time and multiple sprays using the same insecticide class can lead to pesticide resistance. Thus, it is important to rotate insecticide classes.

Below is a summary of our 2014 experiences in terms of monitoring tools and an overview of the SWD monitoring approach for 2015.

2014 evaluation of commercial and home-made lures for SWD. From late July to late October 2014 the LU IPM program conducted a field study aimed at comparing the attractiveness of a new synthetic lure (trade name: SWD Pherocon, by Trece Inc.) versus that of the standard yeast / sugar bait (home-made lure) to male and female SWD. The study took place in an unsprayed elderberry plot at the Lincoln University Carver farm (Jefferson City, MO). Traps were deployed in pairs (n= 4), about 10 ft. apart, on fruiting plants. Traps were inspected once a week and all insects captured were taken to the lab for identification. Every week, the one-week old traps were replaced with traps having new baits / lures.

Key findings: As shown in the graphs on the right, the active dry yeast + sugar bait consistently out-competed the new commercial lure.
The table below summarizes captures across the entire season. It reveals that the standard sugar / yeast bait was on average 4.8 and 20.3 times more attractive to males and females, respectively, than the new lure.    
Monitoring for SWD in 2015. The first adult Spotted Wing Drosophila was captured by a monitoring trap in the Jefferson City area on May 27th, 2015. This trap was hung from a mulberry tree that has ripening fruit. Since then, SWD has been found in most locations where SWD monitoring traps have been setup by the LU / MU IPM programs. Consequently, farmers are encouraged to monitor for this insect pest.  Ideally, monitoring traps should be deployed starting 3-4 weeks before berry ripening and throughout the harvest season. Place one monitoring trap baited with active dry yeast (1/2 tablespoon), sugar (2 tablespoons) and water (6 ounces) per acre. The trap needs to be hang on a plant, stake, or trellis 3–5 feet above the ground on the most shaded / cooler side of the plant canopy. Because SWD reproduces so quickly under warm weather conditions, the first SWD trapping data are vital to activate pest management programs to prevent rapid population increases and potential infestations on a farm.

For 2015, the Lincoln University and the University of Missouri IPM programs will be monitoring the presence and abundance of SWD in selected locations throughout Missouri. Information will be posted weekly at the MU IPM Pest Monitoring Network website.

SWD Management for the 2015 season. Farmers are advised to apply an insecticide as soon as SWD is detected and fruit is at susceptible stage. Cultural controls such as sanitation (i.e., clean up and destroy over-ripe fruit) and pruning to reduce amount of foliage can help reduce breeding sites and can also improve insecticide coverage. Articles discussing the importance of SWD monitoring, how to make your own monitoring trap, management option including organic tools can be found at: Note that the Spotted Wing Drosophila tab has a scroll down menu. Fact Sheets and Guide Sheets listing the most effective organic and reduced-risk insecticides that can be applied against SWD are available the LU IPM program website.
By Dr. Jaime PiƱero - Lincoln University (LU) IPM program

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Contaminated Compost

NOTE:  This post is relevant for both farmers as well as home gardeners.  There are 3 sections to this post:  
1. Article from MU on contaminated compost; 2. Green bean test for contaminated compost; 3. US Composting Council response and action on your part if you have purchased contaminated compost.

Contaminated Compost
Many Missouri home gardeners made a horrible discovery this year. The compost they worked into their garden soil is contaminated with persistent herbicides.

David Trinklein, horticulture specialist for University of Missouri Extension, said the contamination is coming from the composted manure and bedding of animals that have grazed on forage sprayed with new-generation herbicides. These new herbicides, called pyralids, are designed to control broadleaf weeds in pastures and to last a long time. They are not broken down in a grazing animal’s digestive tract or in the composting process.

Contaminated compost worked into your garden will contain enough active herbicide to damage sensitive plants. These include many plants prized by home gardeners, such as tomatoes, beans, strawberries, marigolds and some varieties of roses, Trinklein said.

Fixing contaminated soil isn’t easy. Trinklein said it’s better to check for contamination before you buy or apply compost. This includes compost you made yourself using animal manure.

“I think the safest thing to do would be ask for a small sample of compost and do the green bean seed test,” Trinklein said. “That way you’ll know before you buy, and certainly before you apply, whether there’s any chance of contamination.”

The seed test is simple, he says. Grow green bean seeds using the compost. Since green beans are very sensitive to these herbicides, the sprouts will grow twisted and gnarled if the compost is contaminated.

Another option is to avoid compost made with horse manure or bedding, unless it can be verified that horses were fed hay that was not treated with pyralids. Horse manure is more frequently a source of contamination than manure from other common livestock animals.

“This might be due to the fact that most horse owners are particular about what they feed their animals, therefore they insist on hay that is weed-free,” Trinklein said. “It’s easier to obtain weed-free hay if it has been treated with these herbicides.”

What can you do if you unknowingly add contaminated compost to your garden? There aren’t a lot of options, Trinklein said. You can try to remove the contaminated soil and replace it with new topsoil. That’s neither easy nor inexpensive.

“The other thing that you can do would be to apply activated charcoal,” Trinklein said. “The finer the grind of the charcoal, the more effective it’s going to be.”

A moderate amount would be about 7 pounds of activated charcoal per 1,000 square feet, equivalent to a 20-by-50-foot garden, he says. He warns to be ready for sticker shock.

“I found it online in bulk for about $5 per pound plus shipping,” Trinklein said.

Another option is to wait for the herbicides to break down in the soil naturally. This usually occurs over time because of microbial activity. But how long would you need to wait?

“That’s the scary part. We don’t know,” Trinklein said. “We cannot tell people if you only wait weeks, months, years, your soil will be safe. Our learning curve about the problem still is steep.”

Green Bean Seed Bioassay for Contaminated Compost

1. Use six 6-inch plant pots.
2. In three of the pots, put a 50-50 mixture of compost and potting soil.
3. In the other three pots, put potting soil only.
4. Plant green bean seeds in all six pots and wait.
5. If the green beans in all six pots come up looking normal, then the compost is probably safe.
6. If the beans in the 50-50 mixture come up twisted and gnarled, then the compost is likely contaminated with herbicides.

US Composting Council Response
The US Composting Council is continuing to pressure EPA to force the chemical companies to reduce the persistence and take steps to reduce nontarget impacts, and articles like this help.

If possible, could you encourage readers to report any suspected incidence of contaminated compost using our confidential reporting form:

We also just released 3 fact sheets on persistent herbicides, including detailed instructions for a home bioassay:

(by Debbie Johnson, MU Senior Writer)

Ecological Management of Insect Pests and Diseases in Vegetables Workshop and Field Day

Gain the knowledge and experience you need to manage pests using ecologically-based methods on your own farm! You are invited to participate in one of 3 identical upcoming Integrated Pest Management (IPM) workshop / field day.

RSVP is required since each workshop is restricted to 25 participants.  To register call the following for each location.

There will be 3 identical workshops with a field day to a local farmer participant:

Friday, July 17th – Truxton, MO, 8:00 am
Workshop and field day will be held at Lee Farms LLC, 39358 Pin Oak Church Road, Truxton, MO 63381
To register call (573) 681-5312 or

Monday, July 20th – Hillsboro, MO, 8:45 am
Jefferson County Extension Office, 301 3rd Street, Hillsboro, MO
Followed by field day at Sandy View Acres, 3843 Sandy Church Rd, Hillsboro, MO 63050
July 20th in Hillsboro – 636-797-5391 or

Wednesday, July 22nd – Springfield, MO, 8:00 am
Library Station, 2535 N Kansas Expy, Springfield, MO 65803
Followed by field day at Millsap Farm, 6593 Emu Ln, Springfield, MO 65803
To register call (573) 681-5312 or

This FREE grant funded workshop and field day will demonstrate sustainable IPM (integrated pest management) approaches such as mass trapping, trap cropping, and cover crops.

8:45 am – Registration

9:15 am – Welcome and introductions

9:30 am – Dr. Zelalem Mersha: Coping with Bad Weather and Preventing Vegetable Diseases

10:30 am – Dr. Jaime Pinero: Using Mass Trapping and Trap Cropping for Insect Pest Control

11:30 am – Mr. Jacob Wilson: Integrating Cover Crops with Vegetable Production: Benefits and Challenges

12:15 pm – Networking Lunch with Discussion

1:15 pm – Dr. Pinero: How to enhance biological pest control using farmscaping / insectary plants
2:00 pm – Mr. Wilson: Overview of Key Invasive Insects

2:45 pm – Drive to Field Day Site

3:30 pm – Field Day with Demonstrations of ecological pest management (insectary plants, trap cropping, cover crops, identification of plant diseases and insect pests and beneficials)

NOTE: Hillsboro location start time is adjusted to 8:45 am start and field tour to start at 3:30 pm

Monday, June 29, 2015

Peach Production Workshop and Field Day

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Invites You to Attend: Peach Production Workshop and Field on Thursday, July 16, 2015 from 2:00 pm to 7:30 pm at the University of Arkansas Fruit Research Station, 1749 State Hwy 818, Clarksville, AR 72830

Tentative Program Schedule
2:15-2:45 Registration
2:45-3:00- Welcome and Introduction- Dan Chapman
3:00-3:30- UA Peach Breeding Program Update- Dr. John Clark
3:30-4:00- New Tools and Directions in Peach Breeding- Dr. Ksenija Gasic- Clemson University
4:00-4:20- Peach Texture Diversity in the Arkansas Peach Breeding Program- Alejandra Salgado
4:20-4:40- Evaluating Bacterial Spot Resistance in Peaches Using Some Old and
New Techniques- Terrence Frett
4:40-5:10- Peach Cultivar Evaluation Trial- Preliminary Results- Taunya Ernst
5:10-5:30- Peach Insect Management- Dr. Donn T. Johnson
5:30-5:50- Peach Disease Management- Sherrie Smith
5:50-6:30- Dinner and Peach Tasting
6:30-7:30- Field Tour

We have invited a prominent peach breeder from Clemson University, Dr. Ksenija Gasic, to give us an update on new peach cultivars for the Southeast. Our own Dr. John Clark and his graduate students will give us an update on peach research in Arkansas. We will also discuss pest issues affecting the industry. In addition, we will have a display of the large number of peach cultivars and selections we have at our facility and a field tour that will emphasize our peach breeding program. Whether you are thinking about expanding your existing orchard, changing to newer cultivars, or planting a new orchard, this is a great opportunity.

There will be a $20.00 charge to attend this workshop to cover dinner and hand-out materials. Registration fee will be charged on the day of the workshop.
To register contact:  Katie Hanshaw at 479-754-2406 or

Registration is required by Monday July 13.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Missouri Agritourism Conference

Missouri Farm Bureau and the AgriMissouri program with the Missouri Department of Agriculture are again partnering to sponsor the 3rd Annual Missouri Agritourism Conference - July 26-28, 2015 in Springfield.

The classroom/workshop topics include:
* Agritourism Venue Safety Concerns and Tips
* Evaluating On Farm Natural Resources to Diversify Income
* Growing Farm Field Trips and School Tours
* Do You Run Your Marketing Schedule or Does Your
* Schedule Run Your Marketing
* On Farm Food Service and Compliance Regulation Challenges
* Constructive Ways to Finance Agritourism Operations
* Insuring Agritourism - Protecting Your Heritage
* Rapid Fire Q & A Session and Discussion

The bus tour will consist of stops at:
* Farmers Park / Ozark Regional Farmers Market
* Equi-Librium Therapy Center (Tentative)
* Blackberry Creek Retreat Bed and Breakfast
* Gunter Farms Pumpkin Patch Corn Maize and Dairy
* Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festivals
* Other locations to be announced!

Register now! Early Bird Registration Discount!!! $125 per person by July 3 After July 3 - $150
(Registration is not considered complete until payment is received. Visa/ MasterCard accepted.)

For additional information, please contact Kelly Smith at 573-893-1416 or
Farm to Table Dinner @ Urban Roots Farm - the first 75 attendees to register for the conference will be assured tickets to the dinner. Register now at MOFB.ORG.

Hotel rooms will be available at a discounted rate of $89.00 until July 10.  For reservations please call University Plaza Hotel at 417-864-7333.

Friday, June 19, 2015

$16 Million Available for Rural Micro-Enterprise Development in 2015

Very small businesses are the lifeblood of rural America, yet small entrepreneurs often struggle to access credit and business training. Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) operates a rural development program — the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP) — aimed at addressing this gap.

RMAP provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) — non-profit organizations, community-based financial institutions, and local economic development councils — that in turn provide technical services and microloans to rural small business owners in their states and local communities.

On Friday, June 19, USDA announced the availability of RMAP funding to support nearly $14.2 million in loans as well as $2.1 million in training and technical assistance grants for small business development in rural areas.

NSAC and its member groups helped create RMAP in the 2008 Farm Bill and then renew its authority in the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Farm Bill provides RMAP with sufficient funding to support most of the $16.3 million available in FY 2016, though a small portion will come from carry over funds from previous years.

We are currently working to secure additional discretionary funding for this highly successful program through the annual appropriations process. On top of the very limited mandatory funding provided by the the Farm Bill, the President requested discretionary funding to support an additional $25 million in loans and grants in FY 2016. We are hopeful that final FY 2016 appropriations legislation will include this funding.

RMAP defines a “microentrepreneur” as a rural sole proprietorship or business with less than ten employees. Additionally, potential borrowers are required to show that they cannot obtain funding from other lending sources due to lack of credit or limited business development experience. The microbusinesses must be located in rural areas defined as any area other than a city or town that has a population of greater than 50,000 and the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to such a city or town according to the latest decennial census.

Types of Funding Available
There are three categories of funding that are available through RMAP:
  • Loan capital to MDOs to provide fixed interest rate microloans of less than $50,000 to rural entrepreneurs for the development of microenterprises in rural areas. Loans through MDOs cannot exceed a 20-year timeframe and need to bear an annual interest rate of at least one percent. Each MDO must establish a loan loss reserve fund and keep at least five percent of the outstanding loan balance in reserve.
  • Technical assistance grants to MDOs to provide marketing, management, and other technical assistance to microentrepreneurs who have already received or applied for an RMAP loan through an MDO. The maximum annual grant award can be no more than 25 percent of the organization’s outstanding microloan balance. This assistance could include but is not be limited to networking, online collaboration and marketing, grant-writing, entrepreneurship workshops or conferences.
  • Technical assistance-only grants to MDOs that seek to provide business-based training to eligible microentrepreneurs and microenterprises, but do not seek loan funding.
The federal share of the cost of a microentrepreneur’s project shall not exceed 75 percent, meaning that the MDO must provide or secure the remaining 25 percent from non-federal sources. For any RMAP grant, MDOs must match at least 15 percent of the total amount of the grant in the form of matching funds, indirect costs, or in-kind goods or services.

How to Apply
Applicants must deliver completed applications for loans, and combination loan and grant applications to their USDA Rural Development state office by 4:30 p.m. (local time) on the last day prior to the beginning of each federal fiscal quarter to be considered for funding in that quarter. Applications received after a federal fiscal quarter deadline will be reviewed and evaluated for funding in the next federal fiscal quarter.

Microlender technical assistance grants for existing MDOs with a microentrepenuer revolving loan fund will be made, non-competitively, based on the MDO’s microlending activity and availability of funds. To determine the MDO’s technical assistance grant awards for FY 2015, the Agency will use the MDO’s outstanding balance of microloans as of June 30, 2015.

MDOs can obtain applications and forms from their Rural Development state office or online at A list of the USDA Rural Development State Offices addresses and telephone numbers can be found online at

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chinese Solar Greenhouse

I recently attended an update on high tunnel technology at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

One of the speakers was a grower who was sharing his experiences building and using a Chinese Solar Greenhouse.

I first heard the term, “Chinese Solar Greenhouse,” from our former State Vegetable Specialist, Dr. Sanjun Gu, at the Great Plains Growers Conference several years ago. Dr. Gu is from China, and had a lot of photos of this interesting technology.

This technology allows producers in China to grow warm season vegetables during the winter months, with no additional heating. Can you imagine growing tomatoes in January without extra heat? They are doing it in China, at latitudes similar to ours. In other words, it is in a cold part of China, not the tropics.

How do they do this? The key is good insulation. The greenhouses run east and west. The north side, as well as the east and west end walls, are very thick, made of earth or some other material to provide insulation as well as storing heat. The south side is covered with plastic, but is covered at night by a straw mat, which provides further insulation to be able to retain the heat at night that was gained during the day.

A grower north of Springfield heard Dr. Gu’s presentation, and was intrigued enough to build a Chinese Solar Greenhouse. He has followed most of the design principles, although he has not found an insulating material to cover the greenhouse at night. That has meant a few nights where the temperature inside approached freezing, which required additional heat.

The grower has tried several crops, including early and late tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, which lasted until Christmas. He also has grown carrots, head lettuce, kale, chard, celery, parsley, and various salad greens which have been seeded and harvested all winter long.

In addition he has tried ginger, which does quite well.  Chinese Solar Greenhouses certainly have a lot of advantages, especially if a grower has a market for crops during the winter. There are a few disadvantages, including the extra cost of construction. It will be interesting to see what this grower’s conclusions will be after a few more years of using this structure.
(By: Tim Baker, Extension Professional and Horticulture Specialist)