Using NEWA Internet Resources and Scouting to Improve Pest Management in Onions 2006
Project Leader: C. Hoepting, Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program
Cooperators: C. MacNeil, J. Gibbons, Cornell Cooperative Extension Vegetable Program
Much information is available through Northeast Weather Association (NEWA), an on-line resource that plugs into local weather stations to model/forecast disease and insect activity/pressure. This information in combination with scouting has great potential to be used in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy in onions, but both require in-depth training before it may readily be used by onion growers. In this project, we worked with seven onion growers and taught them how to use scouting information and weather and disease model information provided in NEWA to make fine-tuned, effective and economical crop protection decisions. We also trained two grower’s teenage children to scout onions and to retrieve the information provided in NEWA. Of the information provided by NEWA, the downy mildew disease model appears to be the most useful, followed by the Michigan Botrytis Leaf Blight model while the Purple Blotch model had the least practical application. Having an unbiased skilled onion scout appears to be critical to an onion IPM program. In this study, weekly monitoring of pest pressure allowed one grower to delay both his first fungicide and insecticide sprays two and three weeks, respectively, a total savings of $125 per acre. The grower’s teenage children still require more training, but show great promise in being a relatively inexpensive means for their onion grower parents to obtain scouting information that will save them money in pesticide sprays while maintaining high quality of their crops.