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Ohio Vegetable and Small Fruit Research and Development Program announces research funding

The Ohio Vegetable & Small Fruit Research & Development Program (OVSFRDP) announced it will grant $39,750 in financial support to address production issues such as identifying disease and insect problems and effective management strategies, detection of phenoxy herbicide drift, and the evaluation of new varieties and cultural practices. Ten Ohio State University researchers were awarded grant money to conduct 10 research projects.

Sally A. Miller and Fulya Baysal-Gurel are focusing on providing cost-effective vegetable disease diagnosis to growers. Since 2009 when this effort was first funded, 1,291 vegetable samples from Ohio growers have been diagnosed in the OSU Vegetable Pathology Lab in Wooster at no charge to growers and gardeners. In addition, many additional digital samples have also been diagnosed. This grant, while it does not cover the full cost of diagnosis, helps to cover costs of consumables and staff time, providing significant value for Ohio vegetable growers.

Miller and Baysal-Gurel were also awarded grant money for research to optimize management of cucumber downy mildew. Cucurbit downy mildew, caused by Pseudoperonospora cubensis, remains one of the most important diseases of cucurbitaceous crops. The goal of the grant is to develop improved, economically-, and environmentally-appropriate IPM approaches to manage this disease. The goals of the project are to determine if P. cubensis spore counts can predict the beginning of a downy mildew epidemic; assess the relative sensitivity of the downy mildew pathogen to fungicides commonly used to manage the disease using greenhouse and field tests; and compare the efficacy of oomycete fungicides applied using air-assisted electrostatic and conventional sprayers on downy mildew development in ground-produced and trellised cucumbers.

Matt Kleinhenz teamed with Miller and Baysal-Gurel for a research project on improved resistance in pepper and squash to Phytophthora capsici through grafting. Phytophthora blight continues to be a serious constraint to pepper and cucurbit production in Ohio and much of the United States. While some resistance to the disease exists in pepper, no varieties are immune and fungicides have limited effectiveness when applied to susceptible varieties. The goal of this grant is to determine if grafting desirable varieties onto resistant rootstocks can improve pepper and squash productivity in the presence of Phytophthora.

Optimization of a 2,4-D detection system for long-term field deployment will be the focus of Doug Doohan and Roger Downer. The release of 2,4-D and Dicamba-tolerant corn, soybean, and cotton is imminent. Grain farmers will embrace these crops because they provide a new method to kill a growing range of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Employment of novel 2,4-D and Dicamba-resistant crops as a pest-management strategy, however, brings with it a concomitant set of risks that must be ameliorated for this strategy to be employed successfully. The goals of this research are to optimize a 2,4-D detection system for long-term field deployment and to have a system robust enough to withstand the rigors of weather and exposure to the elements.

Research has shown that squash bees visit cucurbit flowers between 8 to 10 times more frequently than honey bees or bumble bees, and therefore may receive greater exposure to pesticides. Furthermore, squash bees feed exclusively on pollen and nectar of Cucurbita species (pumpkin and squash), creating a very close association with this crop group and exposure to any pesticide program used to protect these plants. Jim Jasinski and Thomas Janini are evaluating pesticide effects on squash bees in cucurbits. The goals of this research are to determine pesticide toxicity on the squash bee, and evaluate a squash bee “friendly” disease management program compared to a conventional program in a field demonstration.

Jasinski and Celeste Welty are working on a project for maintaining a rapid reaction monitoring team for invasive species. Non-native invasive species such as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) and Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) have been detected in Ohio in the past few years. The goals of this effort are to maintain a monitoring network for Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Spotted Wing Drosophila; conduct workshops on Spotted Wing Drosophila identification, management, and monitoring; implement a 24- to 48-hour rapid response protocol for Spotted Wing Drosophila cooperators; provide round-the-clock access to BMSB and SWD site trap data via MyTraps.com for fruit and vegetable growers; and update management and insecticide options on Spotted Wing Drosophila fact sheet.

Allen Gahler’s northern Ohio pepper evaluation will provide growers with an objective performance evaluation on industry standard and new varieties of banana, bell, and jalapeno peppers grown in North Central Ohio; identify pepper varieties best suited for fresh market production in Ohio; determine the difference in varieties based on plant health and growth, including disease susceptibility and resistance; and outline the difference in varieties based on yield and quality of the crop.

Brad Bergefurd received funding for three research projects. The first is an evaluation of fresh market tomato nitrogen and potassium fertigation ratios, graft plants, and variety selection on physiological disorder, yield, and fruit quality attributes. This project will determine if the incidence of physiological disorders such as yellow shoulder, gray wall, blossom end rot, and green core in fresh market tomatoes are influenced by different fertigation rates and nitrogen/potassium ratios; the influence of different nitrogen/potassium ratios on yield and quality; and if tomato physiological disorders can be reduced through the use of grafted plants. He is also evaluating new and promising fresh market tomato cultivars for physiological disorder susceptibility, fruit quality attributes, appearance, soluble solids, and yield.

Bergefurd’s second research project, pumpkin germplasm production and quality evaluation and screening for resistance to powdery mildew, downy mildew, angular leaf spot, anthracnose, and white speck (Microdochium blight), will evaluate newly released and standard pumpkin cultivars including large, medium, small, mini, and novelty varieties for their suitability, marketability, growth, and production characteristics under a typical south central Ohio growing season.

Bergefurd’s last project, matted row and plasticulture strawberry production winter protection and management, biofumigant, and cultivate evaluations, will investigate potential improvements of the matted row and plasticulture strawberry production systems in Ohio. It builds on previous efforts that identified functional and profitable strawberry production systems by refining methodologies. These include the evaluation of new matted row and plasticulture strawberry cultivar testing (including day-neutral and everbearing cultivars), new season extension techniques, matted row day-neutral production systems, winter row cover management techniques based on growing degree day models, and bio-fumigant products, all of which offer promise of maximizing grower financial returns.

Funding that supports OVSFRDP research activities comes from Ohio’s small fruit and vegetable growers as a result of a marketing agreement growers passed in February 1993. More information about the OVSFRDP program and its research priorities is available at www.OPGMA.org/OVSFRDP.

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