New Covid-19 Funding Alert! Agri-tech Innovation Program webinar on May 20th

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s incredible how fast the sector is evolving when it comes to Covid-19 and mitigating its effects in agriculture.

OMAFRA is pleased to announce the new Agri-Tech Innovation Program, with $22M in funding to help farms adopt innovative technologies that protect workers against Covid-19.

To learn more about this program, see the details below for the information webinar on Thursday at 9 am.

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Confused About Covid Programing? Introducing OMAFRA’s COVID-19 Webinar Series!

With information on Covid-19 changing over time, and funding programs evolving to keep up with grower needs, it can be hard to keep track of what’s happening week-to-week regarding Covid and agriculture.

To help deliver up-to-date information to stakeholders, OMAFRA will be delivering a COVID-19 OMAFRA Monthly Webinar Series.

The series will be an opportunity to provide information, address concerns and promote tools and resources offered by OMAFRA.   The first webinar in the series is TOMORROW (May 18th) at noon, and will cover changes to the Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program. Be sure to keep reading for how to access it!

Continue reading “Confused About Covid Programing? Introducing OMAFRA’s COVID-19 Webinar Series!”

REPOST: Water Sanitation Part 1: Identifying Problems Before They Start

Spring is just around the corner, and this is historically the time of year where we get more calls about disease pressure and problems in the crop.  This post is part of a series too get you reflecting on your own irrigation system before you are faced with a problem.  We’ll re-post some older posts about on identifying problems in the greenhouse and how to test your water, while adding some new posts on interpreting lab test results, on-farm methods for disease monitoring, water treatment technology options and more.  These will be good refresher resources, so make sure to bookmark them for future reference.

Ever wonder how water related disease issues just seem to pop up out of nowhere? You’ve never had a problem before, but suddenly things just aren’t looking right. The truth is that problems often go unnoticed while pathogen levels are low.  Knowing potential innoculum sources and practicing good preventative measures can help to reduce the risk of a bigger problem. Continue reading “REPOST: Water Sanitation Part 1: Identifying Problems Before They Start”

OMAFRA Controlled Environment Agriculture Series — Cannabis Potency and Horticultural Management Strategies

OMAFRA’s webinar series dedicated to optimizing production in environmentally controlled agroecosystems continues. This time, they’ll be addressing how horticulture practices impacts the quality of cannabis characteristics. Share with anyone you know might be interested!

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Funding Available for Farm COVID Safety Assessment and Training Until March 31st!

Are you aware Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) offers consulting to look at your farm’s safety practices and COVID-19 risks? Ontario is providing funding for up to $2000 in these services until March 31st. To take advantage of this program before it ends, check out the links provided below!

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Spotted Lanternfly – Getting Too Close for Comfort!

SpottedLanternFly
Photo from the Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Lately, you might have heard a lot about a certain invasive pest in the news – the Spotted Lanternfly. This objectively beautiful but damaging species is a pest of certain trees, grape vines, and other horticultural crops.

Spotted in North America as early as 2012, specimens of the invasive spotted lanternfly have now been detected in Michigan, New York and Quebec. Do Ontario ornamental crop growers need to be worried? Keep reading to find out!*

(*This post was was originally posted on the ONFruit blog and was amended by S. Jandricic for relevance to the ornamental industry).

What is a Spotted Lanternfly?

Spotted lanternfly fourth (final) instar nymph (immature). Note the color change to red and black with white spots. Photo courtesy of Gregory Hoover.
Spotted Lanternfly nymph (immature stage).

Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is an invasive plant hopper, originally from Asia. They feed on the sap of plants. As with any sap-sucking pest (like aphids and whitefly), their feeding can causing wilting and dieback of plants when present in high numbers. Like aphids and whitefly, they also produce copious amounts of honeydew, resulting in the growth of sooty molds.

Crops at Risk

There are over 70 documented hosts in North America. The main hosts include grapevines, fruit trees (apple, peach, plum, cherry), hops and hardwoods (black walnut, maple).

However, certain ornamental tree and vine species can also be hosts, including Japanese maple, lilac, and virginia creeper. The biggest red flag for the ornamental industry on this list of susceptible host plants is certainly roses, including Beach and Japanese rose shrubs. Thankfully, other common ornamentals grown by the greenhouse floriculture industry (including perennials and outdoor cut flowers), do not appear to be hosts.

Spotted lanternfly swarm on grapevine
Swarm of spotted lanternfly on grapevines. (Credit: Erica Smyers, Penn State University).

Reports of economic injury in Pennsylvania, where this pest has established, have occurred in commercial vineyards, where swarm feeding has resulted in yield loss, decreased sugar content in harvested grapes, and weakening and death of vines. For trees, heavy feeding from spotted lanternfly feeding doesn’t usually kill the tree but is a stressor and some dieback can occur.

Early Detection is Critical

With ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as roses, on it’s list of potential targets, it essential that ALL agricultural operations keep their eye out for this pest, ESPECIALLY when receiving shipments from areas where Spotted Lanternfly has been spotted or is established (see Distribution, below).

Although established populations have NOT been found in Canada (yet), it’s moving closer and closer to our Ontario border with recent detections in New York and Michigan.

Early detection of any spotted lanternfly sightings is CRUCIAL so we can act quickly and limit its spread. Report any suspected finds immediately to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) online or by calling 1-800-442-2342.

Distribution

Native to Asia, spotted lanternfly was identified in Pennsylvania in 2014. Despite containment efforts, this pest has spread further and established populations are now found in various regions across the United States.

Map of spotted lanternfly reports in northeastern regions of United States show infestation present in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, New Jersery and Connecticut. Individual finds also reported in New York, Maine and North Carolina.
Map of spotted lanternfly reports in the northeastern regions of the United States, as of October 29, 2020. (Source: New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University).

In September 2020, the CFIA confirmed the identification of two dead spotted lanternflies on commercial trucks travelling from Pennsylvania to Quebec, illustrating the pests’ capacity for being spread quickly over large geographic areas by human activities.

Be Prepared

The spotted lanternfly is an excellent hitchhiker. Adults can cling to cars and trucks moving at high speeds for long distances. Females indiscriminately lay eggs on any smooth surface (vehicles, stones, lawn furniture, etc.); egg masses are difficult to detect, can be moved over great distances, and represent the life stage adapted to overwintering. 

Sticky tree band is wrapped around large tree trunk at eye level of adult.
OMAFRA staff putting up a sticky tree band to monitor for spotted lanternfly in 2018.

With so many different pathways and potential points of entry, monitoring presents a big challenge. In 2016 and 2018, OMAFRA monitored high risk areas using sticky tree bands. No spotted lanternfly was detected, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Ontario is a big province!  

In 2019, a Canadian Spotted Lanternfly Education and Outreach Committee was formed. Members include the Invasive Species Centre, CFIA, OMAFRA, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, industry representatives and city foresters.

Currently, the best plan of attack for Ontario is to have as many trained eyes as possible on the look-out for this unique-looking invasive insect.

Know What to Look For

In the mid-Atlantic states, overwintering egg masses are laid through the fall. The egg masses usually have about 30 to 50 eggs and are laid in parallel lines.

Spotted lanternfly egg masses: (a) Fresh egg masses have a waxy coating. (b) In older egg masses, the waxy coating starts to crack. (c) Eventually, the waxy coating begins to come off. In this picture, some eggs have hatched.
(Credits: (a) Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org), (b) & (c) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org)

Nymphs begin to appear in the late spring.  They feed and move almost constantly. Keep a close eye on grapes, tree-of-heaven, black walnut, butternut, willow, birch, sumac and roses around your property as nymphs seem to prefer these hosts. Late instar nymphs tend to cluster together on preferred hosts, such as tree-of-heaven and black walnut.

Spotted lanternfly nymphs: (a) Early instar nymphs are black with white spots. (b) Late instar nymphs are red and black with white spots.
(Credits: (a) Emelie Swack
hamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

Adults appear mid-July and are active until they are killed by cold temperatures.  In vineyards, adults tend to show up along borders first. There are reports that spotted lanternfly adults are poor flyers; however, they can travel a long distance with the right conditions.

Spotted lanternfly adult: (a) Front wings are pale with black spots at the front and dark net-like bands at the tips. (b) Rear wings have bands of red, black and white. (Credits: (a) Emelie Swackhamer, Penn State University, Bugwood.org, (b) Richard Gardner, Bugwood.org)

There is one generation of spotted lanternfly per year. Recent observations show that spotted lanternfly does not require tree-of-heaven to survive, but comprehensive information on host use requires additional research.

Life cycle of spotted lanternfly: egg masses are present September until the following May, early nymph activity begins April until July, late nymph activity begins July until September, adult activity begins July until October.
Lifecycle of spotted lanternfly. Timing of each life stage is based on information from Pennsylvania, US.
(Credit: Lawrence Barringer, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture)

Management in the United States

In the US, research is being conducted to develop better tools for monitoring and management. You will find the latest information on Penn State Extension’s spotted lanternfly website.

Current management in the US includes:

  • Remove and destroy egg masses –Scrape off into a container and place in alcohol (hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, other). Check vehicles, farm equipment and other hard surfaced items thoroughly for egg masses if coming from infested areas.
  • Remove tree-of heaven – May help reduce numbers but may not be practical if present in large numbers. Herbicides can be applied to control suckers. Since other hosts may prove suitable to complete development, attempts at eradicating tree-of-heaven as a management strategy may prove ineffective. 
  • Use sticky tree bands – Helps reduce numbers of nymphs. To avoid catching non-target organisms, use large-gauge mesh over the band, or alternatively, inward-facing sticky bands to intercept nymphs as they climb up host trees. Research to develop better traps is ongoing.
  • Encourage natural enemies – This includes spiders, assassin bugs, praying mantis and others that prey on spotted lanternfly. Relying on natural enemies alone may not be enough to control a high population. Parasitic wasps have been identified in China but require evaluation for non-target effects. 
  • Use insect-pathogenic fungi – Fungal pathogens, such as Beauveria bassiana, are being evaluated. The entomopathogenic fungus Baktoa major has been found in association with SLF in Pennsylvania and appears to be highly virulent against the pest.
  • Apply insecticides – Products containing bifenthrin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, carbaryl, fenpropathrin, malathion or zeta-cypermethrin provide effective control of nymphs and adults. Chlorpyrifos is the only active ingredient that gave high mortality of eggs. Mineral oil has shown egg mortality of up to 71%. For landscape trees, they have used tree injections, trunk sprays or soil drenches with certain neonicotinoid insecticides with excellent results. 

Where We Go From Here

Although Spotted Lanterfly hasn’t shown up in Ontario yet, OMAFRA is already taking steps besides monitoring. As we do not have any registered uses for the control of spotted lanternfly in Canada, this pest has been prioritized through the Minor Use Program for high-risk crops.

Although this pest may seem concerning to many – remember – we’ve been through this before (I’m looking at YOU, Japanese beetle!). As with JB, different agencies within Canada will work together with growers and industry groups to develop action plans to both protect Canadian crops and maintain market access, should this pest make it to Ontario.

OMAFRA’s Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Program Extended until Friday, March 12.

Enhaced Worker Protection ProgramHave you applied for OMAFRA’s Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program (EAWPP), to help mitigate risks and costs from COVID??? If not, there’s still time!

The deadline for submitting eligible expenses has been extended.  Eligible applications for project expenditures incurred as of March 15, 2020 are received and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Financial assistance is available until March 12, 2021. 

More information is available at OMAFRA’s COVID-19 landing pageLinks to expenses covered under the EAWPP program are included in the post below. Continue reading “OMAFRA’s Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Program Extended until Friday, March 12.”

Controlled Environment Technology Webinar, Part 2: Managing Greenhouse Environments Under Blackout Curtains – March 12

The OMAFRA Greenhouse Vegetable Specialist is continuing an exciting webinar series on technology in controlled environments!

This series is relevant to anyone producing in controlled environments – from vegetables, to herbs, cannabis and flowers. The second webinar tackles the use of black out curtains for light abatement in these systems, and how their use can impact plant production. Industry experts from AAFC, Hoogendoorn, Ludvig Svensson, Van der Ende Group and 360 Energy are all participating. so don’t miss the opportunity to hear from so many experts at once! This webinar covers each company’s approach to addressing challenges of production under curtain cover, and involves a panel-style discussion about integrating these systems.

Details on this installment of this webinar series can be found below.

Continue reading “Controlled Environment Technology Webinar, Part 2: Managing Greenhouse Environments Under Blackout Curtains – March 12”

REMINDER: Last Chance to Register for March 2nd Greenhouse IPM 101 Workshop (Online)

Need a refresher on IPM for specific pests of floriculture? Want to see how Canada – a world leader in biological control in greenhouse crops – does things?

Then this all day workshop is for you!

Keep reading for the topics we’ll be covering, and how to register. This workshop is applicable to participants from the U.S. and other countries besides Canada.

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