Through my work as a Summer Scholar through summer of 2021, I learned a great deal of information about the process of integrated pest management while visiting a handful of farms through Massachusetts. Backed by a network of Extension professionals, I learned how to effectively scout for pests and carefully combed through beds of crops, looking for any signs of feeding damage, the insect pest itself, or signs of disease. I then rated the level of damage that plagued that crop and gave the grower recommendations for dealing with them now, or for preventing them in the future. Some of the most notable crop pests were different types of beetles, which can cause both feeding damage on fruit and foliage, or act as a vector of disease between susceptible plants. This year, we found that disease was especially prevalent in vegetable farms due to July’s high amount of rainfall. Plant pathogens that cause diseases like downy and powdery mildew in cucurbit or phytophthora root rot in tomato become especially mobile when it rains or when there is standing water in the field. Storms also cause a higher transmission rate because it is more likely that a plant will be subject to physical damage, giving pathogens more entry points into the plant tissue.
Another significant part of this season is the sweetcorn trap numbers that were collected from June through September. From these traps, weekly information about the European corn borer, fall armyworm, and corn earworm adults was gathered and compiled to create a final trend table at the end of the season. These three species are especially important because they can all easily devastate a sweetcorn field, a staple crop in Massachusetts. Although they are very different, the larval form act in very similar ways where they burrow into the ear of the corn and decrease its marketability. Each trap is baited with a pheromone lure that will attract the moth of the given species. By tracking the number of moths caught in a trap each week, we can then predict the severity of the infestation and give accurate spraying recommendations.