2019 Competitive Grant Summaries

Learn more about some of the Project GREEEN-funded work in 2019.

Potatoes

Development and delivery of Extension programing for aerial stem rot, blackleg and tuber soft rot potato disease management

Noah Rosenzweig
Awarded: $20,900
Leveraged: $1.26 million

Michigan potato production ranks seventh nationally. Potato production systems have long been plagued by a multitude of recurrent and persistent seedborne and storage diseases. Dickeya and Pectobacterium are closely related bacteria that cause seed piece decay, blackleg, stem rot and wilt, and tuber soft rot. A number of Dickeya and Pectobacterium are endemic to the U.S. and cause significant losses annually, with a recent epidemic in which growers reported losses around $2 million. Michigan commercial and seed potato growers have identified disease caused by Dickeya and Pectobacterium as a problem of increasing importance and as two of the most important potato pathogens they face. Researchers worked with MSU Extension educators to develop region-specific disease management programing. The team also helped MSU Extension educators deliver programming to the Michigan potato industry, the MSU Extension field crops work team, the MSU Extension vegetable crop work team, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. An educational video series was developed in partnership with the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, the Michigan Seed Potato Association, MSU AgBioResearch and MSU Extension. 

Take the phosphorus challenge

Kurt Steinke
Awarded: $24,900
Leveraged: $35,400

Water quality concerns in the Saginaw Bay and Western Lake Erie Basin watersheds have been increasing for the last 25 years. Whether for drinking, recreation, commercial fishing, irrigation or aesthetics, the interconnectedness of the water supply interacts with water quality to affect all users. The agronomic management of phosphorus fertilizers, particularly phosphorus fertilizer applications and grower decision-making processes used to guide phosphorus fertilizer additions, remains a primary regulatory target. Twenty-seven on-farm or research center trials were completed investigating corn grain yield response to phosphorus fertilizer applications. Grain yield results indicated 10 locations significantly responded to fertilizer applications while 17 sites were classified as non-responsive due to a lack of statistically significant yield data. Results support the notion that soil testing is essential. Practitioners need to examine and understand soil test reports prior to the decision to apply fertilizers, as soil testing for phosphorus indicates the likelihood of response to added phosphorus. 

Developing an integrated management strategy for Asian chestnut gall wasp in Michigan

Deb McCullough
Awarded: $40,000
Leveraged: $87,181

Michigan is the leading commercial chestnut producer in North America with annual harvests of more than 225,000 pounds of chestnuts from 2016 to 2018. To date, growers have invested at least $7.7 million in commercial orchards, predominantly in southwest and northwest Lower Michigan, where suitable soil and climate conditions occur. Asian chestnut gall wasp, an invasive pest native to China, threatens Michigan’s commercial chestnut industry. This invader, considered the dominant chestnut pest in Europe, was first discovered in Michigan in 2015 in a Berrien County orchard. Researchers have generated science-based information on the pest’s life history in Michigan chestnut orchards, yielded information on an important biological control of this invasive pest, and provided growers with current information on local distribution and spread. Results have produced practical and economically viable management tactics that support the long-term sustainability of Michigan chestnut production. 

Niche root crops require solutions for critical pests

Mary Hausbeck
Awarded: $35,000
Leveraged: $80,914

Niche root crops, including table beets, radishes, turnips and parsnips, are increasing markets for Michigan growers. The state ranks first nationally in turnip acreage and fourth for radishes. Considered among the oldest vegetables, these roots are experiencing a renaissance in popularity, as they are low in calories and have several health benefits. However, a range of root and foliar disorders can render root crops unmarketable. Preliminary findings indicated that diseases, based on grower observations, included: Rhizoctonia root rot, Alternaria leaf spot and common scab for table beets and turnips, and downy mildew and Pythium root rot for radishes. Cabbage maggot is a significant problem on Michigan turnips and radishes. Correctly diagnosing and providing updated management recommendations for pests of root crops is essential to maintain them as viable crops. The diagnosis of scab and Rhizomania on these crops was a significant finding. Researchers found that managing these diseases is difficult and will require further research to limit their negative impact. 

Demonstration of varietal response to fungicide and nitrogen applications on wheat yield, disease incidence and profitability

Martin Chilvers
Awarded: $25,000
Leveraged: $40,000

Researchers sought to demonstrate the varietal response of soft red and soft white winter wheat to varying nitrogen fertilizer rates and fungicide applications. The goal was to disseminate information to educate producers, consultants and educators to improve nitrogen fertilizer and fungicide management strategies based on winter wheat varietal decisions. Improvement of these management strategies can reduce potential yield and economic losses, while maximizing Michigan wheat acreage and production. Reduced use of nitrogen and fungicides can also reduce run-off or off-target effects from these inputs. Research trials allowed scientists to show the differences and importance of variety selection. This information was used at field days, Extension events and agribusiness meetings. Researchers found that wheat variety has a significant impact on head scab and leaf disease development under conditions favorable for disease. Growers should use an integrated pest management plan to reduce the risk of disease and maximize the economics of production. 

Field conditioning of Honeycrisp and other chilling-sensitive apple varieties

Randolph Beaudry
Awarded: $25,400
Leveraged: $33,000

Temperature conditioning is a required activity for successful storage of Honeycrisp and other chilling sensitive cultivars in air or controlled atmospheres. Failure to properly condition fruit would lead to loss of most of the crop — potentially millions of dollars. Currently, fruit are held for several days at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in storage rooms before moving the fruit to their final storage room, which is maintained at 38 degrees. Researchers have found over the past few years that Honeycrisp develop chilling injury at storage temperatures below 38 degrees. A conditioning period of five or more days at 50 degrees, prior to low temperature storage, will markedly reduce injury. Additionally, the data consistently show that both chilling injury and carbon dioxide injury can be suppressed by conditioning treatments. Suppressing carbon dioxide injury requires higher temperatures and/or longer conditioning times than are needed for chilling injury control. 

Comparing best management for chemical agriculture fertilizer and manure and the impacts on water quality to enhance environmental

Joan Rose
Awarded: $25,000
Leveraged: $80,000

Nutrients from agricultural fertilizer and/or manure use are a problem for water quality. This, in addition to fecal pollution from manure and wastewater from septic tanks, causes concern in rural areas. First, researchers collected and analyzed 136 water samples from selected watersheds. They then gathered and synthesized detailed agricultural practices, landscape and hydrologic data, comparing human waste, animal waste and chemical fertilizer. Researchers mapped and modelled the landscape and water quality data and relationships among them to identify practices that positively and negatively impact water quality. The data shows that the water quality is spatially distinctive, and the watershed scale is the appropriate spatial resolution. The Macatawa watershed, for example, was shown to be very different than the others. Researchers found that agricultural land use, septic tanks and the percentage of land with no tillage influence water quality (fecal pollution and excess nutrients) at the watershed scale with rain and stream flow affecting the temporal changes during the growing season. 

Investigating the status of resistance to streptomycin and kasugamycin in localized populations of fire blight in Michigan

David Jones
Awarded: $12,000
Leveraged: $14,000

Fire blight is one of the most destructive diseases to apple production in Michigan. The two most effective antibiotics for management in conventional systems are streptomycin and kasugamycin, assuming no resistance is present. However, resistance to streptomycin in fire blight populations has been documented in pockets of Michigan since 1990 and has been discovered in surveys conducted as recently as 2017. Kasugamycin is used as a substitute for streptomycin in orchards where streptomycin resistance is known to occur. In northwest Michigan, 22 farms were screened and 10 were found to have streptomycin resistance. In west central Michigan, 24 farms were screened and 12 were found to have streptomycin resistance. In general, resistance to streptomycin was detected in roughly half of the orchards that were tested, and the resistance was found to be well distributed throughout both west central and northwest Michigan. No evidence of kasugamycin resistance was documented during this project in any region of Michigan, indicating that this material is still a critical resource for the Michigan apple industry.

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