New USDA Award – Biological Efficacy and Phytotoxicity Optimization of a Novel Oxidant Product for Plant Protection
Floriculture and nursery crops are one of the highest value-per-acre industries in the farm sector. Like food crops, ornamental crops are infected by many fungal and bacterial pathogens, which result in substantial yield and quality losses. The environmental horticulture industry is one of the key subsectors of the U.S. agricultural economy, providing an estimated 48,883 permanent and temporary jobs and $27.14 billion in revenue. As part of this industry, floriculture and nursery crops are grown in more than 30 states over a combined 57,500 acres of greenhouses and open space. To control diseases, growers predominantly use chemical fungicides. In 2009, 870 thousand pounds of fungicides (22.4% of the total pesticides used) were applied to floriculture and nursery crops. The potential adverse impacts of these chemicals on the environment and the emergence of fungicide-resistant pathogen strains have put pesticides under increased public scrutiny. This proposal addresses stakeholder needs by developing a new, environmentally friendly disease control strategy.