Oregon State University Extension is adding several crop-specific pest management plans to its repertoire, working in collaboration with farmers, researchers, agribusiness and industry representatives.
The latest report on Treasure Valley onions in southeast Oregon and southwest Idaho was published last month in the OSU Extension Catalog. It identifies management priorities and critical needs for major pests including onion maggots, thrips, bulb mites and cutworms.
A 24-member work group met in February 2017 to discuss the issues they are facing at every stage of the crop’s development. Farmers grow 20,000 acres of dry bulb onions in the Treasure Valley, which accounts for 30 percent of U.S. production and up to $140 million in annual farm gate value.
Katie Murray, program leader for the Integrated Plant Protection Center at OSU, said the management plan is not a how-to guide, but a road map for the university and industry to learn what growers need to do a better job.
“We’re trying to open their toolbox,” Murray said. “It kind of helps to show where the gaps are.”
Among the top-priority critical needs were developing a pest management risk index to minimize crop damage, increasing resistance management education for growers and developing more pest-resistant onion varieties.
“Part of what they were wanting was a more holistic view of whole-season management,” Murray said.
Integrated pest management planning is typically funded by the USDA. In 2016, Murray applied for additional funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Crop Protection and Pest Management Program to develop plans that she said takes a different tack on the conversation using the “PAMS” approach — which stands for “Prevention, Avoidance, Monitoring and Suppression.”
“Basically, we’ve changed the way we talk about current management,” she said.
Murray was awarded $215,000 in 2016 to develop pest management plans for onions, as well as cranberries, cherries and hazelnuts. The cranberry plan was completed last summer, Murray said, while workshops for the cherry and hazelnut groups were held in January and February, respectively.
Like the onion plan, the other three crop reports will be published through the OSU Extension Service, Murray said, to maximize their outreach.
“I think it’s very clear the value,” she said. “Not only are we identifying (grower) needs, but getting those met by building a system that can respond to those.”
Murray said they have already received additional funding to continue the work, with plans slated for grass seed, mint, potatoes and pears.
Reports can be found online at www.catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu.