Easily accessible weather data help producers time sprays, monitor crop conditions

02/01/2011 12:00:00 PM

If growers wait until the larvae already have hatched and chewed their way into the fruit, it’s too late to prevent infestation, she says.

Apple grower Donald “Tre” Green, who until recently owned Chazy Orchards in Chazy, N.Y., and who now serves as a consultant there, checks the website on his computer to determine when insects are going to have flushes so that he can time his sprays.

The information is tabulated and advises users when they should be watching for various pests, he says.

Without the site, Green says, “You would have to keep track of that yourself as best you can.”

Gary Mahany, an owner of Mahany Farms in Arkport, N.Y., bookmarks sites on his laptop computer that provide information from NEWA and other stations to help him protect his 550 acres of potatoes from late blight. Mahany invested about $2,200 in a weather station where his potatoes are grown that transmits information to the Cornell site so anyone can access it. The $2,200 was a reasonable investment, he says, considering that one spray can cost twice that.

Cornell also sends a text message to his cell phone if the threat of late blight reaches a certain severity level, he says. regional system

Eventually, Harvey Reissig, director of the pest management education program for Cornell, says he would like to see “if we can develop a system that can be utilized in any of the states throughout the Eastern and Central humid apple production region.”

He would like to integrate the work Carroll and others at Cornell are doing into a real-time apple integrated pest management website to help growers make decisions on sampling, monitoring and selection of pesticides.

That goal may soon become a reality. Cornell already has a Specialty Crops Research Initiative planning grant to help support the process.

“We hope to develop an SCRI proposal to develop this web-based IPM system in humid apple-growing regions,” he says. “It will be sort of a national system for those types of regions.” He hopes to receive a grant shortly and have a system in place that can be used by smart phones or handheld devices within three to five years.

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