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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Kearneysville, West Virginia » Appalachian Fruit Research Laboratory » Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection » Research » Research Project #426211

Research Project: Integrated Orchard Management and Automation for Deciduous Tree Fruit Crops

Location: Innovative Fruit Production, Improvement, and Protection

2018 Annual Report

1: Improve understanding of deciduous tree fruit stress responses and develop cultural strategies and technologies to ameliorate abiotic stress with different tree architectures and rootstock-scion combinations. 1.A. Develop and test novel genetic sources and tree architectures for increased water use efficiency. 1.B. Characterize key biochemical and physiological processes regulating fruit tree architecture and genetic-environmental interactions. 1.C. Develop cultural management practices that include rootstock and shoot architectures that are stress tolerant and improve production efficiency in high density plantings. 1.D. Develop rudimentary apple orchard carbon budget. 2: Develop new devices/technology for dectection and control of invasive and native insects in fruit crops including, but not limited to, brown marmorated stink bug, spotted wing drosophila, and the native plum curculio. 2.A. Identify and utilize attractive behavioral cues, including olfactory and visual stimuli, to develop sensitive monitoring tools and behaviorally-based control strategies within the production system that reduce insecticide inputs to increase profitability and sustainability. 2.B. Develop monitoring and management tools for the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, spotted wing drosophila, and the native plum curculio using the knowledge developed in Sub-objective 2.A. 3: Develop and apply computer vision for mechanization of orchard practices including, but not limited to, pruning. 3.A. Refine computer vision system for three-dimensional shape modeling of trees, including different tree growth habits. 3.B. Integrate computer vision system and robotics for pruning.

This project proposes the development and integration of entomological, horticultural, and engineering technology to solve major problems affecting temperate tree fruit production, the sustainability and environmental impact of tree fruit production, and consumer acceptance of tree fruits. Novel arthropod management techniques will be developed through identification of olfactory or visual cues in order to implement insect behavioral manipulation strategies that will improve monitoring and control of key insect pests. Improved light and water management will be developed through training systems that include different tree growth habits that are amenable to orchard automation and through improved understanding of hormones, rootstocks, and growth habit to optimize carbon partitioning, tree development, and water use efficiency. Future mechanization of orchard operations will be facilitated by newly developed tree management systems to improve light penetration in novel tree growth habits and by algorithms for the visualization of tree branches. The technologies and knowledge developed within this project are components of management systems that integrate behaviorally-based monitoring and management of arthropods, optimal tree architecture, and orchard automation that result in the production of high quality fruit with stable annual yields. The broad base of expertise in the research program will develop and integrate the most appropriate technologies to solve the key problems of tree fruit production. Productive and sustainable tree fruit production systems will benefit both consumers and global competitiveness of U.S. growers.

Progress Report
Visually attractive attract-and-kill devices for spotted wing drosophila (SWD) have been evaluated in small fruit plantings on commercial farms in six states across the country for their protective capacity during fruit ripening. Under low to moderate SWD and fruit densities, the system can mitigate SWD injury; at higher densities of SWD and fruit, it is more difficult for this behavioral system to operate as a stand-alone tool. Perimeter-based brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) attract-and-kill systems have proven effective at protecting apple orchards from significant fruit injury while reducing the overall amount of insecticides applied against BMSB by >70%. Further trials aimed at integrating other compatible cultural practices for BMSB and SWD are ongoing. Continued trials aimed at further refining pheromone-based monitoring tools and attract-and-kill strategies for BMSB continue in experimental and commercial orchards. More field seasons of the robot-computer vision system were completed, and modifications were completed to allow for better use of the system in production apple blocks. Computer vision research was applied to the pruning problem, as well as detecting flowers for thinning, and using the system for phenotyping in breeding settings.

1. Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) Commercial Pheromone Lure Development. Based on the identification of the BMSB pheromone and pheromone synergist, and collaborative projects with ARS and University researchers around the country, lures are now commercially available from at least three commercial companies; AgBio, Trece and AlphaScents, and can be used with crop-compatible trap designs to measure BMSB presence, relative abundance, and seasonal activity.

Review Publications
Rice, K.B., Jones, S.K., Morrison III, W.R., Leskey, T.C. 2017. Spotted wing drosophila prefer low hanging fruit: insights into foraging behavior and management strategies. Journal of Insect Behavior. 30(6):645-661.
Nixon, L.J., Morrison III, W.R., Rice, K.B., Brockerhoff, E.G., Leskey, T.C., Guzman, F., Khrimian, A., Goldson, S., Rostas, M. 2018. Identification of volatiles released by diapausing brown marmorated stink bugs, Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). PLoS One. 13(1):e0191223.
Rice, K.B., Bedoukian, R.H., Hamilton, G.C., Jentsch, P., Khrimian, A., Maclean, P., Morrison III, W.R., Short, B.D., Shrewsbury, P., Weber, D.C., Wiman, N., Leskey, T.C. 2017. Enhanced response of Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) to its aggregation pheromone with ethyl decatrieonate. Journal of Economic Entomology. 111(1):495-499.
Tabb, A., Medeiros, H. 2018. Fast and robust curve skeletonization for real-world elongated objects. IEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision.
Tabb, A., Medeiros, H. 2018. Automatic segmentation of trees in dynamic outdoor environments. Computers in Industry. 98:90-99.
Tabb, A., Medeiros, H. 2017. A robotic vision system to measure tree traits. IEEE RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
Tabb, A., Duncan, K.E., Topp, C.N. 2018. Segmenting root systems in xray computed tomography images using level sets. IEEE WINTER CONFERENCE ON APPLICATIONS OF COMPUTER VISION.
Dias, P., Tabb, A., Medeiros, H. 2018. Apple flower detection using deep convolutional networks. Computers in Industry. 99:17-28.
Leskey, T.C., Nielsen, A.L. 2017. Impact of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug in North America and Europe: history, biology, ecology, and management. Annual Review Of Entomology. 63:599-618.
Valentin, R., Fonseca, D.M., Nielsen, A.L., Leskey, T.C., Lockwood, J.L. 2018. Early detection of invasive exotic insect infestations using eDNA from crop surfaces. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 16(5):265-270.
Short, B.D., Janisiewicz, W.J., Takeda, F., Leskey, T.C. 2018. UV-C irradiation as a management tool for Tetranychus urticae on strawberries. Pest Management Science.
Rice, K.B., Morrison III, W.R., Short, B.D., Acebes-Doria, A., Bergh, C., Leskey, T.C. 2018. Improved trap designs and retention mechanisms for Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Journal of Economic Entomology.
Acebes-Doria, A.L., Morrison III, W.R., Short, B.D., Rice, K.B., Bush, H.G., Kuhar, T.P., Duthie, C., Leskey, T.C. 2018. Monitoring and biosurveillance tools for the brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys Stal (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). Insects.
Rice, K.B., Wiman, N., Hilton, R., Cullum, J., Leskey, T.C. 2017. Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) response to pyramid traps baited with attractive light and pheromonal stimuli. Florida Entomologist. 100(2):449-453.
Hock, V., Chouinard, G., Lucas, E., Cormier, D., Leskey, T.C., Zhang, A. 2017. Olfactometer responses of plum curculio Conotrachelus nenuphar (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) to host plant volatiles, synthetic grandisoic acid, and live conspecifics. Journal of Insect Behavior.