Project Number: 2092-22430-003-024-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Mar 1, 2021
End Date: May 31, 2022
1. Determine current stakeholder practices, needs, and knowledge regarding releases of natural enemies in tree fruit. 2. Create a research and extension team supported by stakeholder advisors with the goal of submitting an USDA OREI grant within two years of project completion. 3. Determine if mealybug destroyers can be successfully deployed by drone and identify the most effective time point for release.
Objective 1. Regional stakeholder input sessions will be held in the three major fruit grower areas of Washington (Yakima, Wenatchee, Omak) and Oregon (Hood River, Medford) in Dec 2021-Jan 2022. The discussion will focus on current attempts to use purchased natural enemies, identify challenges and barriers to use, and determine research and extension priorities. The stakeholder sessions will be used to develop a survey distributed widely to apple in pear growers in Washington and Oregon to assess grower needs and current practices. Objective 2. Regional stakeholder sessions will be used to identify approximately five stakeholders interested in serving on an advisory panel for a federal grant submission. Objective 3. Trials will be conducted in an organic commercial apple orchard to test ground and drone releases of mealybug destroyer for mealybug control. Releases will be occur twice during the growing season. Mealybug and mealybug destroyer populations will be monitored once weekly for four weeks after each release.