Pest research to benefit horti

25-03-2020    13:23   |    Greenhouse Grower

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) continues to focus on giving growers the right tools for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation. Earlier this month, APHIS announced it is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program.

“The Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program has a complicated name, but it adds great value for the horticultural industry,” says Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Research. AmericanHort played an instrumental role in securing the original program in the Farm Bill two cycles ago, and has advocated to sustain and grow it ever since.

“We (Dr. Jill Calabro and I) volunteer to serve as project reviewers on two of the six goal areas under which projects and funding are grouped,” Regelbrugge says. “This means a direct opportunity to help guide what gets funded.”

Many of the projects improve the effectiveness of U.S. quarantine and pest prevention efforts, which helps protect U.S. growers, Regelbrugge notes.

“Each year, some of the projects are directly relevant, targeting solutions for specific pests like Ralstonia or downy mildew. Some are more general, like the developmental work for the Systems Approach to Nursery Certification SANC), now being piloted in almost two dozen growing operations across the country, including Altman Specialty Plants, D.S. Cole Growers, Dickman Farms, and Willoway Nurseries.”

Some of the highlights of this year’s funding awards include:

  • Spotted lanternfly surveys and monitoring, outreach, modeling, control strategies, and canine detection
  • Boxwood health initiatives for boxwood blight research efforts led in Virginia and an outreach and education program in Oregon, including a new project to evaluate sterile insect technique and mating disruption of box tree moth
  • The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), AmericanHort’s research foundation, will receive $49,600 to deploy an online risk assessment tool that simplifies the process for nurseries and greenhouses to implement the Systems Approach for Nursery Certification (SANC) program
  • General pest surveys and certification programs in greenhouse, nursery, and retail
  • Phytophthora ramorum surveys and eradication efforts
  • Deployment of high-throughput sequencing for faster diagnostics and release of new fruit-producing and flowering trees.
  • Biocontrol of thrips in greenhouses, with research to be based in Oregon

“AmericanHort and Horticultural Research Institute welcome USDA-APHIS’ funding announcement,” says Dr. Jill Calabro, Director of Science and Research Programs at AmericanHort/HRI. “This program has become an indispensable tool as we work proactively to solve plant health challenges that harm our growers and landscapes, and to prevent the next one from happening.”

Source and Photo Courtesy Greenhouse Grower

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