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Virginia ag research on display June 3

Farmers in the Tidewater area of Virginia and North Carolina will get a chance to see mid-season crops and hear the latest information on crop production at the Early Summer Row Crops and Vegetables Field Day and Tour at the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center near Suffolk, Va. on June 3.

The unusual weather pattern spawned by El Niño in the fall of 2009 and winter and early spring of 2010 created some challenges for growers in the region, resulting in changes in cropping choices for many growers.

Virginia Tech researchers, working at the Tidewater facility will address many of the pest management issues created during the early to mid-part of the 2010 growing season.

Ames Herbert, a professor and entomologist at the Tidewater facility will kick off the program with an update on early and mid-season insect research on cotton and soybeans.

Among other tests, Herbert is conducting a series of studies on stink bug management in soybeans. The multi-state study has already uncovered some little known information about the biology and life cycle of stink bugs.

For the past few years Herbert, and former graduate student Amanda Koppel, have looked at various natural enemies of stink bugs as a means to augment chemical control of these pests.

The arrival of bacillus thuriengensis-containing seed a few years back created a good environment for stink bug buildups across the Southeast. In recent years, increased use of improved Bt-containing varieties has created a major stink bug problem.

The Virginia Tech researchers looked at four different insecticide classes commonly used on row crops and vegetable crops in the Southeast: Organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoid, and spinosad. The results, she says, may be surprising to growers. A high percentage (up to 70 percent) of the stink bug eggs survived the various insecticide treatments.

Herbert will give growers an update on this and other stink bug research being conducted at the research farm and with growers in cooperative projects around the state.

During the event Herbert will also give growers an update on mid-season insect challenges facing Virginia peanut growers. He has a number of peanut projects on-site, and with area growers looking at various insect management strategies, and how these fit into an overall integrated pest management (IPM) program. Herbert heads the Virginia IPM program.

Peanut production in Virginia has declined over the past few years in large part due to the high cost of growing the crop.

Disease management has been a particular issue as growers cope with a multitude of both production and environmental issues concerning peanut production.

Varietal resistance is the best option growers have for managing the cost of disease management. Maria Balota, who joined the Virginia Tech Tidewater research team three years ago, has screened a number of new varieties and breeding lines in a search for a peanut variety that will provide Virginia growers with the best combination of yield, buyer appeal and production cost management.

Balota, who is an assistant professor of crop physiology at Virginia Tech, will show growers some of the work she has done with peanut varieties and discuss some future options growers will have for reducing risks associated with peanut production.

Though Virginia fared better than most Southeast states in getting wheat planted on time and surviving multiple winter freezes and snows, there is little doubt a drop in acreage in the state will push growers to take a closer look at full season soybeans as an option for land taken out of wheat production.

Veteran Virginia Soybean Specialist and Virginia Tech Researcher David Holshouser will show growers one of his most innovative research projects. During the Tidewater Center’s Fall Field Day, he showed some of the early results of the project.

In this project Holshouser is looking at barley, wheat and soybean cropping systems. With the new Osage Bio ethanol plant, which uses barley as the primary source of production, beginning operations this summer, growers have taken a closer look at barley production in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.

A frequently asked question among Virginia grain farmers is: “Why do my beans do better behind barley than behind wheat.” The pat answer is barley allows farmers to get beans in earlier than when planted behind wheat, hence planting date is the reason.

“We don’t really know whether planting date is the only or even major reason double-crop beans do better behind barley than wheat. Hopefully, this study will give us a better understanding of why beans behind barley is better,” Holshouser says.

The research team of Pat Phipps and Darcy Partridge has produced a number of disease fighting innovations to help Virginia growers manage diseases across a broad spectrum of cropping options.

During the field day on June 3, the duo will show growers mid-season results of several in-furrow fungicides being used to manage CBR in peanuts. The high cost of managing cylindrocladium black rot, commonly called CBR, and sclerotinia are often reasons cited for the slide in peanut acreage in Virginia in recent years.

The Virginia Tech researchers have dedicated a part of their research program to finding better management tools for these two diseases. Among those tools is a genetically modified variety that offers particularly good hope for managing sclerotinia.

In addition to their peanut research, Partridge, now Darcy Partridge Telenko, and Phipps will show growers results of their work with fungicides used to manage various disease problems in wheat and soybeans.

The Tobacco Buyout Program and a movement among some growers to produce lower acreage, more profitable — though often more risky — crops has resulted in an increased interest in vegetable crops.

Managing the cost of downy mildew in vegetable crops is similar to the challenge peanut growers have in managing the cost of sclerotinia and CBR. During the field day, Janet Spencer and Steve Rideout will show growers the latest information for managing downy mildew in cucurbit crops.

The Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center is located in the coastal plains region of southeast Virginia in Suffolk. The center’s resources include 336 acres of agricultural land and associated buildings, equipment and laboratories.

Allen Harper, director of the facility, will host the June 3 field day and tour. He reminds visitors to the event, “If you are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Tidewater AREC at (757-657-6450) during business hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to discuss accommodations 5 days prior to the event.

Following the field day and tour, Bayer CropScience will provide lunch for the visitors.


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