Organic Cucurbit Research Receives Funding

Iowa State University researchers are teaming with scientists at Cornell University and the University of Kentucky to research physical barriers that can protect organic cucurbits from pests. The project received a $2 million grant from USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Specifically, the research team will study the effectiveness of mesotunnels composed of nylon mesh fabric suspended on hoops placed about 42 inches above the ground, to prevent harmful insects from attacking the crops. Unlike low tunnels, the mesotunnels are designed to let insects pollinate the crops within them, and each mesotunnel will house boxes of bumblebees for pollination. The grant will also allow researchers to explore biocontrol methods for cucurbit disease control in organic production.