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Sustainable management solutions for the cucumber beetle - bacterial wilt pathosystem in Wisconsin

Grant Recipient:

Department of Entomology
University of Wisconsin
1630 Linden Drive, Room 537
Madison, WI 53706

Project Period:

March 14, 2008 to March 13, 2010

Principal Investigator:

Russell L. Groves

Wisconsin has a history in the production of fresh market and processing fruits and vegetables including cucurbit crops such as melons, cucumber, squash, and pumpkins. While acreages and crops have changed over the years, growers have adapted and remained leaders in several crops. Additionally, small-acreage fresh market production, particularly organic, continues to expand in Wisconsin. The demographics of these growers are also in transition in the state. Increasingly, a growing proportion of Amish growers are resettling in Wisconsin from Eastern states. These growers are contributing to an expanding fresh market produce industry through establishment of regional produce markets, multi-farm cooperatives and produce auctions. The geographic and social isolation of Amish communities creates a unique extension challenge in providing integrated pest management training for key pests. A key limiting factor for all cucurbit farmers includes cucumber beetles (e.g. cucumber beetles, Acalymma vittatum) and subsequent transmission of the bacterial wilt pathogen, Erwinia tracheiphila. This project focuses on the development of enhanced IPM practices for cucurbit production employing a combination of novel cultural practices, resistant varieties, and low risk pesticides (e.g. Surround®). Special focus will emphasize practices that limit impacts on domestic and native pollinators. Novel cucurbit IPM systems have demonstrated the ability to reduce or even eliminate a reliance on broad spectrum insecticides by incorporating cultural practices that prevent damaging beetle feeding. The primary goal of this research is to demonstrate the deployment and measure the adoption of lower risk, crop protection tools that help growers transition away from high risk pesticides (e.g. carbaryl and synthetic pyrethroids) to lower risk, alternative practices.

Project goals and objectives
The goal of the proposed program will be to develop a comprehensive set of IPM-based tools to manage the cucumber beetle – bacterial wilt pathosystem and document reductions in total pesticide use and avoidance of risk associated with adoption of IPM. We propose to study the value of multi-tactic, sustainable management practices that will lead to a transition from a reliance on insecticides identified by FQPA as high risk.

Specific goals of this project include:
1. Participating growers will grow a field of highly-susceptible, cucurbit crops with greater than a 50% reduction in the use of high risk insecticides required to produce a non-resistant variety.
2. Participating growers will achieve a > 75% reduction in disease incidence by layering multiple management tactics with minimal adverse effects on fruit yield or quality.
3. The long-term persistence of cucumber beetle populations and incidence of bacterial wilt inoculum will be reduced by greater than 50% through sanitation and source reduction efforts.

Widespread adoption of a comprehensive set of IPM-based tools to manage the cucumber beetle-bacterial wilt pathosystem and document significant reductions in total pesticide use and avoidance of risk associated with the adoption of IPM.

Project Links
none mentioned

American Farmland Trust