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MDA Seeks Grower Cooperation to Conduct Invasives Disease Survey in High Tunnels

Although every crop has pest and disease problems to deal with, emerging and invasive pests are of
great concern because they often do not have natural enemies to keep them in check, and effective
management practices may not be known or may not be readily available to growers. As a result, early
detection of invasive pests is important so that new infections can be eradicated, or the population can
be minimized, and the spread slowed to allow researchers and growers time to prepare management

Every year, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture Pest Detection Unit surveys for emerging and
invasive insects and plant pathogens that threaten vegetable and fruit production in Minnesota. These
surveys are funded by United States Department of Agriculture Plant Protection Act. As more growers
use high tunnels to increase production and protect the crop from weather extremes, the MDA would
like to increase the number of high tunnels in our survey to better protect these valuable production
systems from invasive diseases. Although high tunnels help prevent certain diseases by controlling the
production environment, some pathogens are favored by high tunnel production. In 2023 we will be
surveying for invasive viruses and bacteria of tomato, pepper, and cucumber in high tunnels. These
pathogens can all be introduced on infected seed or transplants and are easily spread on hands and
tools. Because crops grown in high tunnels are tightly spaced and frequently handled, these invasive
diseases can rapidly spread and cause significant damage. In addition, the sheltered environment and
minimal use of crop rotation in high tunnels may allow for these pathogens to survive Minnesota
winters and infect next years’ crop.

MDA is seeking volunteer high tunnel growers to participate in the 2023 invasive and emerging pest and disease survey. As a volunteer survey site, an MDA field staff would visit your high tunnels three times  over the growing season to scout the crop for symptoms of disease. Any suspect plants would be
sampled and tested at the MDA lab. All results from your farm will be shared with you as soon as
possible and overall results per county will be shared at the end of the growing season. We do not share
any personal information about volunteer farms. For more information or to participate in the survey
please contact Plant Pathologist Michelle Grabowski or Survey
Coordinator Chelsey Penuel

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