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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Wapato, Washington » Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research » Research » Research Project #440142

Research Project: Developing Augmentative Biocontrol Programs for Washington

Location: Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research

Project Number: 2092-22430-003-026-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 1, 2021
End Date: Mar 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.

Objective 1 – Input sessions. Regional stakeholder input sessions will be held in the three major fruit growing areas of Washington (Yakima, Wenatchee, Omak). We will invite 10-25 stakeholders per meeting, focusing on apple and pear growers in the area that are interested in biocontrol. Facilitation of the meetings will be done using World Café brainstorming and prioritization methodology. The discussion will focus on current attempts to use purchased natural enemies, identify challenges and barriers to use, and determine research and extension priorities. Objective 1 – The survey will be developed and administered by the Cooperator using Qualtrics from Nov 2022-Jan 2023 (beyond the life of the grant). The survey will be distributed through the Fruit Matters mailing list, at Chelan Horticulture Day, NCW Apple Day, NCW Pear Day, Winter Horticulture Meeting, NW Hort Expo, and additional local extension meetings. We anticipate that the survey will include questions about what natural enemies growers have released, which natural enemies they are interested in, key knowledge gaps they need to addressed, and their perceptions about the costs and benefits of augmentation. The survey results will be summarized using Qualtrics, Excel, and SigmaPlot tools. Objective 2 – Team development. Regional stakeholder sessions will be used to identify approximately five stakeholders interested in serving on an advisory panel for a federal grant submission. We will include at least one pear and one apple grower, at least one grower from each state, and at least one stakeholder from the commercial insectary industry. The team will meet via Zoom at the conclusion of this project (~March 2022) to discuss next directions for research and extension, including grant development.