Purdue Looking for Watermelon Growers to Collaborate on Research Study

As part of a multi-state effort being headed by Dr. Ian Kaplan at Purdue University in the Department of Entomology, we are investigating how to best manage insect pests on cucurbits, in our case watermelons, while having the least possible impact on pollinators. The research is being funded through the USDA/NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The premise of this research is based on the fact that neonicotinoid insecticides, which are a versatile and powerful pest management tool, have been implicated as a factor contributing to pollinator declines. Thus, farmers growing pollinator-dependent crops—including watermelons—are confronted with a potential trade-off between two competing aspects of crop production: effective pest suppression and successful pollination. Our objective here is to identify insecticidal management strategies that simultaneously optimize pest suppression while minimizing non-target exposure to cucurbit pollinators.

To achieve this objective, we are currently looking for producers to collaborate with members of the Entomology Department at Purdue University. Your involvement would include giving us permission to access a watermelon field where we will be counting cucumber beetles, observing pollinator activity and sampling male flowers and soil to measure the amount of neonicotinoid residues. If you are interested in learning more about this project and becoming a participant, please contact Laura Ingwell at lingwell@purdue.edu or 208-669-2321. Thank you.

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