Other major disease challenges for onion producers are soil-borne and bulb-infecting fungal and bacterial pathogens.

“White rot is still an issue,” Schwartz said, “and so are Fusarium, pink root and Botrytis neck rot.”

Fungicides and proper storage practices can help combat losses to those diseases, and Schwartz sees a need for a quick bacterial and fungal diagnostic tool for the onion industry.

“There are 10 or 15 different bacterial pathogens that can attack onions,” he said. “A DNA-based test is being developed by Brenda Schroeder at Washington State University so you can blot a sample on a card and within a few hours be able to say what’s attacking your onions and be able to treat it correctly.”

One of the biggest benefits of a new Pest Management Strategic Plan is that it identifies needs and helps direct research going forward.

“Because of the PMSP, we’re on the same page and organized,” Uchanski said. “This was written by representatives of the onion industry, USDA, academics and growers and packers, so now when we apply for a research grant, there’s weight behind that request.”

The Western Integrated Pest Management Center promotes IPM practices to solve pest problems in agriculture, urban areas and natural lands throughout the West. It encourages a science-based approach to pest management using pest biology, environmental information and all available technology to reduce pest damage to acceptable levels by the most economical means, while reducing the risk to people, property, resources and the environment. The Western Integrated Pest Management Center is one of four regional centers funded by the USDA to promote IPM practices, and serves 14 Western states and Pacific island territories. 

The dry bulb storage onion PMSP can be downloaded at http://www.ipmcenters.org/ pmsp/pdf/USonionPMSP.pdf.


More from Western Farm Press

Supreme Court stuffs seed patents back in Pandora’s box

Photos: Ageless veterans soar once again

Agricultural pioneers battling water scarcity

Wine skeptic takes on climate change report

Honey bee decline all about colony stress

7 big questions for the farm bill debate

Amazing day in short life of worker bee

Dirty Dozen list loses its punch