An agricultural research team at Iowa State University leads a five-state study to reduce pesticide use on apple orchards. Mark Gleason, an I-S-U Extension plant pathologist on the project, says they’re trying to develop non-chemical tactics to control an apple disease and a type of insect.The hazards of codling moth and sooty blotch/flyspeck disease can usually be controlled with pesticides, but those treatments are costly. While many Iowa apple orchards are only 50 acres, treatments can cost at least 20-dollars an acre — or a thousand dollars. Several treatments in a week can quickly add up.Gleason says the goal is to better understand when and why various bugs and diseases strike apple crops so pesticides can more effectively be used.Scientists in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and North Carolina are also working on the project through a 300-thousand dollar U-S-D-A grant. There are about one hundred commercial apple growers in Iowa who’ve devoted about two thousand acres to the project.
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