Northeast region liaisons and researchers gathered at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union on the main campus of the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park. The objective of this meeting was to discuss our challenges and successes throughout the year as well as identify our priorities for the upcoming year.
We were pleased to welcome a few people new to IR-4: Lily Calderwood (State Liaison Representative for Maine), Shelby Fleischer (vegetable Entomologist with Penn State) and Mengjun Hu (small fruit Pathologist with UMD). Our hope was that they were able to learn more about IR-4 and become familiar with the faces of the Northeast.
After breakfast, we started off with an overview of activities in the Northeast throughout 2018. Dan Rossi, Northeast Region Director, walked us through the many accomplishments over the past year and an impressive lineup of trials scheduled for 2019. Jerry Baron, IR-4 Executive Director, provided a presentation explaining the state of IR-4 including the challenges faced due to the flat funding we have experienced for the past decade. It is really quite remarkable how much we can accomplish in spite of that.
We then shifted our focus from a more broad view of IR-4 to the individual programs. Cristi Palmer gave an overview of the Environmental Horticulture Program and details about the workshop scheduled for September 2019. We then engaged the group in discussion about the major pests of ornamentals, potential solutions, and identifying which ones are most important to address at the workshop. Participants were encouraged to take part in and distribute the Environmental Horticulture Grower and Extension Survey. Next we heard from Van Starner who explained the Food Use process and details about the upcoming workshop. Finally, Jerry introduced and explained IR-4’s newest program: Integrated Solutions.
The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing the Food Use program requests. The requests were broken down by discipline (pathology, entomology and weed science). Each discipline based discussion began with open conversation about ongoing and emerging pest issues. We established a preliminary list of those projects most important to the Northeast. It was inspiring to see the interest in being proactive against emerging pest problems (i.e. Spotted Lanternfly) and encouraging to see how nicely it fits into the opportunities offered through the Integrated Solutions program. We will have a follow-up conference call in August to become fully prepared for the Week of Workshops.
We consider it a success to be able to get people together and focus discussion on identifying the most important challenges our farmers are dealing with. For those who could not join in person, we also hosted the meeting via WebEx and were able to include a few other affiliates in discussion using this medium. In the upcoming year we will be focusing our efforts on increasing participation in our future meetings and encouraging further involvement in 2020. We look forward to another year of serving our Northeast Region growers and send many thanks to our meeting participants!