Biological Control of the Root Weevil Complex Impacting Berry Production in Eastern New York

Worksite Location
CCE Columbia, Greene, Ulster, Dutchess, Orange and Putnam Counties, but work may also be conducted in CCE Albany, Schenectady, Washington, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Montgomery and Saratoga Counties.
Faculty Sponsor
Elson Shields, Professor, Entomology
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Laura McDermott, Extension Associate/Vegetable Specialist; Jim O’Connell, Fruit Educator, CCE Ulster County
Stipend Amount
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

A recent research project concluded on Rulfs Orchard (Clinton County) has shown that New York native biocontrol nematodes are effective in reducing Black Vine Weevil populations in strawberries to a sub-economic level with a single application. These biocontrol nematodes persist on site for a number of years since they are native to New York. A New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) project has been funded to extend the knowledge gained from the Rulfs Orchard project to other berry producers in the eastern New York agricultural region. This project will be focused on identifying berry operations who are having economic losses from root weevils and work with the berry producers to inoculate their fields with native New York biocontrol nematodes. Interested berry producers also can be assisted to rear their own biocontrol nematodes to save cost. After fields are inoculated with biocontrol nematodes, nematode populations and root weevil larval will be monitored to document impact. Results will be reported to the berry-producing community through the normal Extension education channels.

Roles and Responsibilities

Field visits to identify fields with root weevil problems; work with interested berry producers to rear biocontrol nematodes on the farm; and assist with the application of biocontrol nematodes to the root weevil impacted fields. Review, modify and update extension handouts regarding the application of biocontrol nematodes for root weevil management. Intern will work out of the Hudson Valley Lab under the immediate direction of Jim O’Connell and Laura McDermott. The Lab offers the intern additional opportunities to be involved with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell research faculty in tree fruit, vegetables and grapes.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

Coursework in biology, natural resources and/or agricultural production related classes.

Benefits and Skills

1) Management of soil insects in berry with biocontrol nematodes native to New York.
2) Experience the dynamics of the CCE educational efforts with berry producers.
3) Root weevil lifecycles and economic impact of these insects on berry stand and profitability
4) Experience the seasonal support and outreach provided by CCE to tree fruit, grape and vegetable producers in the Hudson Valley.
5) Learn how applied research is conducted on-farms and at an experiment station.