Summary of Awards to Date

Development of advanced integrated pest management for northeastern apples.

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Sep. 1, 2009 - Aug. 31, 2011

Award Number


Funding Agency

Center for Produce Safety

Amount Awarded



Michael Cooley, Ph.D.


Autio, W.


Annual pesticide use in apples is relatively high, and reliance on older pesticides creates food-safety and environmental problems. At the same time, the market for apples produced "ecologically" is growing, and some markets will not accept use of more toxic chemicals. This project is a partnership among Land-Grant and USDA researchers, Extension and growers, and brings a unique skill set into development of an advanced integrated pest management (IPM) system for apples. The collaborators, including several growers, have worked on development of individual components of this system over recent years. growers in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont have agreed to collaborate in this effort. A unique aspect of this project is it brings the most promising of these tactics together in a single management system. While the vast majority of apple growers in the Northeast use IPM tactics, progress in reducing toxic chemical inputs has stalled in recent years. The proposed system will introduce advanced IPM tactics that eliminate use of organophosphate pesticides, minimize the use of pesticides in general, and moves towards practical biointensive alternatives. The most important apple pests, including plum curculio, apple maggot, leafrollers and internal Lepidoptera, apple scab and the sooty blotch/flyspeck disease complex, will be addressed. The project also stretches beyond pest management per se to test alternative fruit thinning methods that will eliminate use of a carbamate pesticide. Because researchers in the project also have Extension appointments or significant experience with Extension, and have developed on-farm research and demonstration collaborations with growers, successful tactics will rapidly move into commercial use. Web-based communication will facilitate research and will provide collaborating growers and eventually the industry in general with access to ways to implement advanced IPM. Traditional Extension methods, including widely read newsletters and journals, well-attended meetings, and on-farm demonstrations will insure broad industry awareness of the program. The project has several anticipated outcomes. New knowledge of about the biology of apple pests will be developed, and based on this, non-chemical management tactics for key apple pests will be developed and overall pesticide use will be reduced, in particular, the most toxic chemicals used today. This will reduce environmental impacts of apple production. It will also enable growers to gain access to markets with better return for "eco" fruit. Ultimately this will improve the environmental and economic sustainability of Northeastern apple orchards.

OBJECTIVES: The primary research objective is to develop appropriate, advanced IPM tools for key apple pests in the Northeast that will reduce pesticide use and allow the use of less toxic materials where pesticides are necessary. For specific pests, we will use the following approaches: plum curculio - use a trap tree approach to replace general orchard sprays; apple maggot - use pesticide-treated sphere traps for management rather than general orchard sprays; obliquebanded leafrollers and internal Lepidoptera - use seasonal fruit monitoring programs for optimizing insecticide treatments; eliminate OP's and use pesticides with fewer non-target impacts; apple scab - use potential ascospore dose, inoculum destruction and degree-day model to delay initial fungicide applications in the following season and end applications when unnecessary; sooty blotch and flyspeck - develop model-directed applications of reduced-risk fungicides; enhance fruit thinning without the use of carbaryl - develop effective approaches that do not use carbaryl as a thinning agent. The primary Extension objective is to promote adoption of advanced apple IPM methods through grower demonstrations, educational meetings and publications, and an innovative, real-time apple IPM web site. The advanced system will be developed in commercial orchards, and in conjunction with commercial growers. This will enhance viability of the methods and their communication to other growers. The advanced IPM system will place growers in a position to sell to markets that demand and pay a premium for fruit grown using advanced IPM, including eco-marketing programs and integrated fruit production standards. In turn, this will enhance the economic viability of Northeastern apple growers while decreasing the environmental impacts of their production practices. A specific project timeline is available from the PI on request.