February 22, 2008
Contact: Michael E. Hunter, Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Jefferson County, 315-788-8450; Joe Lawrence, CCE of Lewis County, 315-376-5270

Cornell Insect Specialist Will Report Success with Alfalfa Snout Beetle March 12-13

Seventy-years ago Alfalfa Snout Beetle (ASB) was identified as a crop pest in New York State, likely arriving aboard sailing ships docking at Oswego, NY. Since then, the insect has marched � it migrates by walking � and eaten its way across Northern New York alfalfa fields, sometimes destroying a crop in a single year and dramatically reducing milk production on affected dairy farms. Currently, alfalfa snout beetle has infested nine New York counties. But don�t despair. At the March 12-13, 2008 Crop Congresses in Madrid, NY, and Carthage, NY, Cornell University Professor of Entomology Dr. Elson J. Shields will report the first success of controlling Alfalfa Snout Beetle (ASB).

Dr. Shields says, �Researchers in New York have been working since 1989 to develop strategies to effectively manage Alfalfa Snout Beetle. I am more than pleased to report that we have seen our first success in the fields of the John Peck dairy farm at Great Bend, NY.�

At the Crop Congresses, Shields will talk about the combination of two species of entomopathogenic (insect-killing) nematodes that appears to have caused a collapse of ASB populations to manageable levels at the Peck farm.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced funding to continue research in 2008 on the use of biological controls and to continue the work of Cornell plant breeder Dr. Donald Viands who is developing ASB-resistant varieties of alfalfa.

At the March Crop Congresses, Shields will focus his presentation on the progress of research using nematodes to control alfalfa snout beetle and on a joint effort between Viands� Cornell Forage Breeding Project and Shields� Alfalfa Snout Beetle Research group to develop ASB-resistant alfalfa. With funding from the New York Farm Viability Institute, Shields will work with producers within the ASB-infested counties to establish the biocontrol nematodes on infested farms.

Michael E. Hunter, field crops educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, says, �The March Crop Congresses are an opportunity for North Country farmers to use the latest research to plan their pest management programs for the 2008 growing season. Selecting the best control measures for your farm can positively impact crop yields and quality.�

Also on the Crop Congresses� agenda are presentations by Cornell University Professor of Plant Pathology Gary C. Bergstrom on dealing with field crop diseases, including brown root rot that affects alfalfa and forage grasses; and by Cornell weed scientist Dr. Russell Hahn on new herbicides and weed management for field crops. Hunter and Cornell Cooperative Extension Field Crop Educators Joe Lawrence of Lewis County and Peter Barney of St. Lawrence County will provide North Country Field Crop Research updates.

The registration fee for the 10 am to 3 pm Crop Congresses on March 12 at the Madrid Community Center and March 13 at the Carthage Elks Club is $15 by March 7; $20 after; with lunch included. Register with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Jefferson County at 315-788-8450 or in St. Lawrence County at 315-379-9192.
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