By Nikki Rothwell
Special to the Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Foundation (NWMHRF) received a $10,000 donation from the Grand Traverse Fruit Growers’ Council this past month.
Council president Paul Hubbell and treasurer Denny Hoxsie presented me with a check at their annual picnic last week. This is the second large donation from the Fruit Council, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have such a supportive group of growers in our region.
Part of these funds will go to support an ongoing project. For the past two years, the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC) has been researching the effectiveness of using mating disruption to control two borer species that infest cherry trunks; these insects have the capability of killing trees if the infestation levels are too high. This project is conducted on three grower farms in Grand Traverse County using an area-wide approach. The idea behind mating disruption is that we prevent males from finding females and mating. If the females are not mated, she cannot lay eggs into cherry trunks where the hatching larvae can cause damage. We place pheromone dispensers, ‘fake females’ into the orchard, and the males fly to the dispensers rather than flying to the real females. If the males spend all their time at the dispensers, they never find the real female moths, and eventually time runs out and the real females are no longer able to lay eggs. Mating disruption is an organic solution to a big problem for cherry growers.
However, due to budget constraints from the loss of the crop last year, funding for the third year of this project has been eliminated. However, with the Fruit Council funds in partnership with Pacific Biocontrol, the manufacturer of the mating disruption dispensers, this project will continue for this 2013 season. The goal of this project is to determine if mating disruption is a reliable method of control for borers, and if we are successful, this strategy has the potential to reduce the amount of insecticides applied in orchards.
Because we feel the outcome of this project is extremely important to the grower community, we cannot thank the Fruit Council enough for this support of both this project and other research trials conducted throughout the region. With partnerships like we have with the Grand Traverse Fruit Council, we can make bigger strides in our research efforts, which in turn impact how we manage our fruit farms here in northwest Michigan. Thanks again to all Grand Traverse County fruit growers for your continued support of the NWMHRS.