Effectiveness of Low-Risk Pesticides on Powdery Mildew and Leaf Spot Disease and Cranberry Leaf Mulch for Weed Suppression

Please click on the link below to see to the pdf version of the research trial results.

2011-13 CFGW powdery mildew factsheet

2013 UW-WMARS Annual Flower Evaluations

The 2013 season is over and the results of our annual flower trials have been compiled. This year we conducted evaluations on 182 flower cultivars in our general trial and an additional 85 cultivars within our CFGW (Commercial Flower Growers of Wisconsin) trial. Starting in July we conducted evaluations a total of three times, approximately one month apart.  This data is used by seed companies, commercial greenhouse growers, and the public to better select varieties that will succeed in our region of the world. We thank all participants including student evaluators Deanna Delfosse and Rachel Peters.

2013 UW-WMARS Flower Trial

2013 CFGW Flower Trial

Insect of the Week

Hey insect fans! This week we’ll be talking about the Spotted Cucumber Beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata), a pest of cucurbit crops that made its first appearance in the gardens this past week. (pictured below – our apologies for the small picture, this guy was FAST)

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The Spotted Cucumber Beetle is a coleopteran pest of cucurbit crops, feeding on plants in this group during both the larval and adult stages of its life cycle. As a larvae, this insect feeds on roots and shoots of growing cucurbits. As an adult, it feeds on leaves, flowers, and fruit.

The primary damage caused by this insect is not its consumption of plant material, however. Cucumber beetles carry bacteria that cause vascular wilt, and transfer them to cucurbit crops through feeding damage and fecal contamination. Vascular wilt, once established in the plant, cannot be cured and quickly causes the infected plant to wilt and die. This bacterial disease plugs up vascular tissue inside plants, blocking the flow of water and nutrients. This  blockage is what causes the initial “wilty” appearance, and is ultimately the cause of death in the plant.

Because of the severity of the problem caused by vascular wilt, it is important to scout frequently for Spotted Cucumber Beetle if you are growing cucurbit crops. If you see wilted sections of vine, it is also wise to make sure that vascular wilt is to blame for the problem. To test for vascular wilt, slice the stem of the affected plant and hold the two ends together for a few seconds. After holding the two halves together, pull them slowly apart and look for a milky, viscous sap stretching between the two ends. If this  milky sap is present, the plant has vascular wilt.

Many chemical and cultural controls are available for the control of Spotted Cucumber Beetle, but they are very diverse and highly dependent on the situation. For this reason, we’re including the link to the UW Extension page on the cucumber beetle so that you can find more detailed information if needed. Here’s the hyperlink: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fadams.uwex.edu%2Ffiles%2F2013%2F05%2FCucumber-Beetles.pdf&ei=wlboUfOrKcO1rgGdr4DwCQ&usg=AFQjCNExHH0uA0QZlChftDBntDcdqZuORg&bvm=bv.49478099,d.aWM

Thanks much for reading! Tune in again next week!

-Dave Schreiner, WMARS Intern

Insects of the Week

Insects are always a part of interacting with vegetable, fruit, and ornamental plants in your home or garden. Although many people see insects around their homes or gardens on a frequent basis, many are left asking questions. Mostly, everyone wants to know whether or not their mystery insect is a pest, but some want information about where they come from, how they live, and what they do to survive. For all of these reasons, this summer West Madison ARS will be featuring life cycle and pest status information on selected insects each week that we’re seeing around the gardens on our own fruits and vegetables in an effort to help everyone learn more about the insects around them. Remember, not all insects are pests! Most are, in fact, not pests at all – and a great many contribute enormous benefit to humans.

Up this week: the  Spotted Asparagus Beetle and the Common Black Ground Beetle! We’ve seen a lot of both of these guys around the station in the past few days. We’ll talk about the Spotted Asparagus Beetle first (pictured below).

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The Spotted Asparagus Beetle, pictured above, is a common insect found in many vegetable gardens across North America. This insect is considered to be a pest of asparagus, and was accidentally introduced to North America from Europe in the late 1800s. This insect can often be observed in the foliage of the mature asparagus plant during the spring and summer months in many gardens. The larvae of the spotted asparagus beetle bore inside of asparagus plants and consume the pulpy tissue inside, while the adults attack the foliage of mature asparagus plants. This insect is able to overwinter as an adult in your garden, sheltering in stems of fallen plants or other garden debris.

Our second insect of the week is the Common Black Ground Beetle, pictured below.

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The Common Black Ground Beetle, pictured above, is an insect that is often found by gardeners who are turning over their soil for the first time in the season or moving straw or other garden residue. The Common Black Ground Beetle is a member of the insect family Carabidae, also known as the ground beetles. Like other members of its family, the Common Black Ground beetle is a mobile predator, feeding on caterpillars and other soft insects using chewing mouthparts. In spite of its fierce appearance, this insect is NOT a pest! They consume many insects that would otherwise harm your garden, serving as a method of natural pest control, and should be a welcome addition to any garden or landscape.

Thanks for reading, and check out the new Insects of the Week post every Monday, all summer long!

-Dave Schreiner, WMARS Summer Intern

2012 – Field Conditions and Vegetable Review

Ruby King-Sweet Bell Pepper

The 2013 season will soon be upon us and looking back on last years field trials I am hoping for moisture. We have taken some time to review last years field conditions and the outcome of the Vegetable Trials. Please visit the following link which includes a review of the 2012 season and an overview of top performing veggies.

2012 Site Conditions and Vegetable Review

Seedless Table Grape Report

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Trollhaugen Seedless Table Grape

The seedless table grape trial at the station, in the garden, began in 2007.  Fifteen varieties were planted in early June.  We were all optimistic and had great hopes that at least four or five of the varieties would over-winter and produce a great crop of seedless table grapes.  The hardiness zones for the grape varieties ranged from Zone 6 to Zone 4.   Only one selection was rated at Zone 4.  Most fell in the range of 5a or 5b.

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Sommerset Seedless Table Grapes

Now five years later, we know that 12 of those original 15 varieties have over-wintered, and produced abundant fruit that ripens in our climate, and each has a unique and unusual taste.

Our annual seedless table grape report for 2012 has a detailed account of the varieties that have over-wintered, and a description of each variety.   Please check the link below for the annual report.

seedless-table-grapes-for-wisconsin-2012a.pdf

Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

Vanessa Seedless Table Grapes

Organic Fungicides on Powdery Mildew Factsheet

2012 powdery mildew factsheet

The study of organic fungicides on powdery mildew went very well this year. In spite of the difficult weather conditions this year posed, the plants grew well and we were able to obtain very clear data. This years data was consistent with the data from 2011 which shows that we are the right track in determining the effectiveness of organic fungicides on powdery mildew that the cut-flower growers will be able to utilize. Along with this trial, there was a new element to this study. We looked at the effectiveness of cranberry leaves as a mulch. With two depths tested, along with a control, we were also able to see very clear results in how well cranberry leaves are able to suppress the growth of both grass-type weeds and broadleaf weeds. This study showed great promise this year and we are excited to continue to watch the results in 2013.

Please feel free to come by next year and see how we conduct our research. We are always happy to discuss the findings we see and pass on the as much knowledge as we can. IMG_4736

2012 Vegetable Evaluations

‘Polar Bear Pumpkins’

Each year we trial annual fruits and vegetables. We evaluate new and old varieties side by side. During the season we make careful notation of flowering dates, fruit set dates, and first ripe fruits. In addition we evaluate plant habit, health, insect pressure, and taste. Our goal is to find out what varieties do best under our weather conditions here in Wisconsin.
Our data is used by both the home and market gardener to determine what to grow.

This years evaluations include a brief summary of weather conditions here at the station.

2012 UW-WMARS Vegetable Evaluations

Food Bank Harvests

Food Bank Donation – Sept 2012

Each year we conduct trials and research on various fruits and vegetables. After data and seasonal evaluations are completed we donate our produce to local food banks. This year we gave our produce to two local pantries Middleton Outreach Ministry and the Lussier Center-Food from Friends program. In total we gave over 3000lbs of produce over a 5 week period. We are proud to work with volunteers and the organizations to provide the community with healthy food.

Agriculture 101-Wisconsin Army National Guard

Soldiers receive instruction on growing root crops from garden manager Brian Emerson

On July 26 soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard received training at the University Display Gardens. The instruction focused on growing techniques for grapes, apples, and vegetable crops. The training was part of a week long series ‘Agriculture 101’ that was coordinated by the UW Babcock institute. The soldiers were given an overview of many agricultural topics to help prepare them for their service dealing with civilian farmers abroad.