Managing Onion Pests and Diseases May Lead to a $13 Million Increase in Crop Value

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Onions are a widely grown and consumed vegetable in the United States, but some growers are abandoning onion farming because of losses due to pests and pathogens.

Researchers at land-grant universities across the country have teamed up to help onion farmers overcome these challenges. They have illuminated effective ways to manage pests and diseases and identified onion varieties with greater resistance or tolerance. These advances have transformed how onions are grown around the world, making production more sustainable for farmers and ensuring a stable supply for consumers.

Cornell University researchers developed an integrated pest management (IPM) program for thrips that combines selective insecticides, appropriate tank mixes and additives, spray thresholds, resistance management, and reduced nitrogen fertilizer use. Growers who used the program made 75 to 80 percent fewer insecticide applications per field and saved an average of $265 to $300 per acre. In the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon, adopting IPM practices to control thrips could increase onion crop value by more than $13 million per year.

NIFA supports this research through the Multistate Research Fund.

Read the full story at the Multistate Research Fund Impacts Page.