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PRO peeks

Looking for ways to reduce on-farm pesticide applications, AURI’s PRO grant recipients will continue work begun in 2001 on a variety of agricultural products, including barley, pumpkins, bees, greenhouse plants and indoor vegetation.

Beetles in pumpkins

New organic pest management system

for cucumber beetle in pumpkins and squash

Sponsored by the Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, this project evaluates baited traps to control pests in crops such as pumpkins, squash and cucumbers. These crops have a value of $7 million annually, according to USDA. Researchers are comparing trap designs, evaluating trap placement strategies, and sharing data with growers through media such as the Minnesota Vegetable IPM newsletter. Early results indicate the most effective placement of traps is 50 to 100 feet from a field’s edge.

Bees that resist

Honey bee resistance to diseases

and the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor

Pesticides and antibiotics are commonly used to fight mites and disease in honeybee colonies. Researchers are attempting to reduce pesticides and antibiotics by breeding mite- and disease-resistant bee lines. Resistant lines were crossbred and the resulting colonies will be studied this year. Researchers will also look at honey production, colony strength and temperament (how much they sting). The Minnesota Honey Producers Association is the project sponsor.

Greenhouse gnats

Integrated pest management of fungus

gnats Bradysia spp. in commercial greenhouses

The fungus gnat is a common greenhouse pest. Effective, timesaving ways to monitor the gnat is one focus of this study. Traps used are potato disks, fava beans, geranium transplants and sticky cards.

A second focus is to find soil mixes that help reduce fungus gnats. Researchers are also evaluating lower-risk, targeted pesticides so growers can be less dependent on broad-spectrum pesticides. Research is being conducted at the University of Minnesota plant pathology greenhouses and Dan & Jerry’s Greenhouses in Monticello and Buffalo, Minn.

Breeding against leaf blotch

Resistance of barley germplasm to septoria

speckled leaf blotch

Septoria speckled leaf blotch is one of the most devastating barley diseases. This project, sponsored by the Minnesta Barley Research and Promotion Coucil, is breeding resistant barley varieties. First-year studies showed that three lines of tested barley were resistant to SSLB; two were moderately resistant. Another two lines were found moderately susceptible to the disease, and the remaining lines tested were susceptible. More information gathered this year will help to commercialize resistant seed.

Save the lady bugs

Implementation of biological control

and compatible pesticides in Minnesota

Valuable trees and plants inside public places such as Camp Snoopy and Como Conservatory need protection from pests — and people visiting them need protection from pesticides. This project’s early results show a common pesticide thought to be safe actually kills beneficial lady beetles. Researchers hope to replace it with less toxic pesticides. The Minnesota Landscape and Nursery Association is sponsoring the project.