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Resource Spotlight: Organic Insect and Disease Management

By Elizabeth Lamb

As new plant diseases seem to appear every year, it is a good idea to have some resources to help you identify and treat them.  Here are a few places to find information on disease identification and control that fits into an organic production system.

1) Disease and insect management for organic producers can be more difficult because of the limited control options available.  Cornell has produced a set of guidelines for integrated pest management of fruits, vegetables and dairy. The guides provide an overall approach for organic production with a focus on biological, mechanical, and cultural controls, with sections on cover crops, resistant varieties, crop rotation, field selection, soil quality and nutrient.

Organic guidelines  http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/organic_guide/

2) The Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management also provides information useful for organic farmers.  The Guide is divided into three sections. The first section provides cultural information and management practices for a number of important vegetable crop groups. The second section is a set of generic fact sheets about specific materials that can be used in organic systems. The last section contains appendices with useful information about additional practices and additional resources.

Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/pp/resourceguide/

3) Accurate identification of damaging diseases and insects is key to effective control.   The Plant Pathology Department at Cornell has information on submitting samples to the Diagnostic Clinic, as well as a series of factsheets on fruit and vegetable diseases.

Plant Diagnostic Clinic  http://plantclinic.cornell.edu/

4) Another resource for identifying diseases of vegetable crops is the department’s Vegetable MD On-line.  On-line factsheets in English and Spanish provide descriptions and photographs of a wide variety of vegetable diseases.  There is also a link to news articles and crop alerts, that includes updates on control materials registered in New York, and another for disease diagnostic keys for cucurbits and tomatoes.

Vegetable MD ON-line  http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/

5) The NYS Integrated Pest Management program has a series of fact sheets on vegetable diseases and insects, including information on biological control of European corn borer.

NYS IPM Factsheets http://nysipm.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/default.asp

6) Information on natural enemies that can control vegetable insect pests is available on-line and through a hard copy manual.

Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America: http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/biocontrol/

Hoffmann, M. P., and A. C. Frodsham. 1993. Natural Enemies of Vegetable Insect Pests. Cornell Cooperative Extension. Ithaca, NY. Phone: 607-255-2080.

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