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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

2019 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
Perimeter-based brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) attract-and-kill systems combining long-lasting insecticide treated netting with pheromone lures have proven effective at protecting apple orchards from significant fruit injury, while reducing the overall amount of insecticides applied against BMSB by >70%. This approach reduces the need for insecticide applications as the net acts as a killing agent. A quarantine permit for studying spotted lanternfly (SLF) at the Foreign Disease Weed Science Research Unit has enabled research on rearing procedures, impacts of host plant diet of SLF growth and survivorship, and the impact of SLF feeding on young fruit and forest trees to begin. Additionally, novel trapping tools for monitoring SLF in the field, while reducing non-target captures, are being evaluated in field locations in Virginia and Pennsylvania. Trials to automate mark-release-recapture for invasive insects with a small Unmanned Aerial System (UAs) have begun, but with dead insects coated in fluorescent power to enable measurements of detection capability in the absence of insect movement. The combination of sensors on the sUAS, fluorescent powder on the insects, and algorithms developed within the project allowed for dead insect detection over a soccer field in preliminary tests. A low-cost system for creating shape models of fruit was developed with a collaborator in California; the system works by rotating the fruit, acquires color images from a camera, and algorithms reconstruct the fruit shape. A calibration method for non-synchronized camera networks was developed. This type of network is common in agricultural research, because non-synchronized cameras are low-cost. This work is needed for the fruit shape estimation for phenotyping mentioned previously, as well as grape rachis shape estimation for phenotyping.


Review Publications
Chambers, B., Leskey, T.C., Pearce, A.R., Kuhar, T.P. 2019. Responses of overwintering Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) to dead conspecifics. Journal of Economic Entomology. 112(3):1489-1492.
Quinn, N., Talamas, E., Leskey, T.C., Bergh, J. 2018. Vertical sampling in tree canopies for Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) life stages and its egg parasitoid, Trissolcus japonicus (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae). Environmental Entomology. 48(1):173-180.
Chambers, B., Kuhar, T.P., Reichard, G., Leskey, T.C., Pearce, A.R. 2019. Size restrictions on the passage of overwintering Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) through openings. Journal of Economic Entomology. 112(3):1343-1347.
Hogg, B.N., Moran, P.J., Smith, L. 2019. Relative performance and impacts of the psyllid Arytinnis hakani (Hemiptera:psyllidae) on nontarget plants and the target weed Genista monspessulana (Fabales:fabaceae). Environmental Entomology. 48(3):524-532.
Chambers, B.D., Leskey, T.C., Pearce, A.R., Kuhar, T.P. 2018. Seasonal response of Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) adults to light bulbs. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology. 33:44-49.
Akotsen-Mensah, C., Kaser, J.M., Leskey, T.C., Nielsen, A.L. 2018. Halyomorpha halys (Hemiptera:Pentatomidae) responses to traps baited with pheromones in peach and apple orchards. Journal of Economic Entomology.
Wallingford, A.K., Rice, K.B., Leskey, T.C., Loeb, G.M. 2018. Overwintering behavior of Drosophila suzukii, and potential springtime diets for egg maturation. Environmental Entomology.
Hancock, T., Lee, D., Bergh, C., Morrison III, W.R., Leskey, T.C. 2018. Presence of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys (Stål) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) on home exteriors during the autumn dispersal period: results generated by citizen scientists. Agricultural and Forest Entomology. 21:99-108.
Hwang, O., Lee, S.R., Cho, S.B., Ro, K.S., Spiehs, M.J., Woodbury, B.L., Silva, P.J., Han, D.W., Choi, H.C., Kim, K.Y., Jung, M. 2018. Efficacy of different biochars in removing odorous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from swine manure. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.