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Website helps growers fight devastating Swede midge

The Cornell Swede midge team has developed a detailed repository of research and educational materials for cruciferous vegetable growers.

Some of the best broccoli grown in the United States never makes it to consumers, says Anthony Shelton, professor of entomology. It cannot be sold because of disfiguring damage by a tiny fly -- the Swede midge (Contarinia nasturtii Kieffer) -- and this leaves many vegetable growers at a loss. More than a billion dollars' worth of vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli is at risk every season.

Cornell researchers have created a new website, the Swede Midge Information Center, for vegetable farmers, crop specialists, grocers and the public. The Swede Midge Information Center provides the latest research, outbreak information from around the country and identification clues at http://www.nysaes.cornell.edu/ent/swedemidge.

"The site is the result of a very proactive approach for managing Swede midge in the U.S. Research and extension efforts were underway even before the insect was discovered in the U.S. in 2004," said Shelton, one of the website developers

"We had a situation occur last year, and we scrambled to pool our information and get it to the farm," said Julie Kikkert, from the Cornell Cooperative Extension regional vegetable program in western New York, who, with colleague Christy Hoepting, also helped develop the website with Mao Chen, from Cornell's Department of Entomology. "Now, all the information is together in one location."

Navigating the site is simple, with topics ranging from insect distribution and biology and how to monitor and scout for the insect to best management practices. It also includes a photo gallery of infestation symptoms in crops and weeds.

Lianne Barry is a summer intern with College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Communications.

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