A low-cost, easy-to-implement on-farm solution for controlling a highly destructive alfalfa pest is now expected to pay off for New York strawberry growers.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) has granted funds to Cornell University entomologist Elson Shields to evaluate the use of alfalfa snout beetle-controlling nematodes to manage two strawberry crop pests.
Strawberry root weevils and black vine weevils attack a wide array of plants from woody ornamentals in the urban landscape to commercial cane berry crops, including raspberries and blackberries; and strawberries.
“Strawberry root weevil and black vine weevil are very closely related to alfalfa snout beetle, and, like alfalfa snout beetle, these weevils are difficult to control with conventional pesticides, but they are very susceptible to attack by the biocontrol nematodes,” Shields says.
Shields developed a protocol for using native New York nematodes to control alfalfa snout beetle, which had become the single most limiting factor for alfalfa growers in nine New York counties. Similarly, the two weevils are causing economic havoc for strawberry growers.