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One for the Rosesby Laura Underwood, CALS communications service intern
Roses are one of the most beautiful flowers to humans – and Japanese beetles, too.
You may notice as summer progresses that your prized rose bushes are under attack from these beetles, which eat the flower, the leaves and eventually kill the whole plant.
This summer Taylor Goetzinger, a senior in landscape architecture and minor in horticulture, is hoping to fight back. As a summer intern at the College of Agriculture and Life Science Horticulture Research Station, Goetzinger is helping to conduct research on a method to repel the pests.
Goetzinger, who is working under the supervision of Nick Howell, the Horticulture Research Station superintendent, is tracking the effects of imidacloprid patches on rose bushes. Imidacloprid is a commonly used insecticide yet this is the first as a patch.
A small patch with a different dose of nicotine is applied to a stem in the bush three inches above ground level. This placement allows the imidacloprid to be transported down through the root system then back up to the leaves and flowers. The patch resembles a strip of Scotch tape with a white tacky powder on it.
The roses are a part of Howell’s master’s degree project. It is a three-year trial of roses for the northern region in the Earth Kind Rose Trial. This trial was started at Texas A&M University to develop roses that demonstrate pest tolerance with outstanding landscape performance while not using any chemicals. Howell rates the roses on growth once a month.
Howell and Goetzinger are completing the first trial of the insecticidal patch. The patch is made by a horticulture company in Germany that is seeking to complete research on the effectiveness of the patch before releasing it onto the market.
If successful, homeowners may have another tool to protect their roses and still be environmentally friendly.
Howell and Goetzinger are working with six different cultivars of roses and four different treatments. There is a control, one patch, two patches, three patches or drench application. Drench application applies the treatment with water, which may lead to adverse effects on the environment.
The Japanese beetles are an exotic insect with no natural predators in Iowa, which makes insecticide application seem like the only option. These pests are a nuisance to many different broadleaf plants, including soybeans and hostas. Japanese beetles are a grub insect, which means they go dormant underground and come above ground in the middle of June until the start of August to feed on roses and soybeans alike.
With a summer full of fresh-smelling roses and repelling pests, Goetzinger is ready for the work that lies ahead for her.
“Every day is different and I enjoy the variety of work. I’m learning how to water the correct amounts, run the machinery and different pruning methods. With my horticulture minor, I needed these different experiences,” said Goetzinger a Mason City, Iowa, native.
She confesses that she can be caught singing some ole railroad tunes with fellow employees while working. “I have always been active in different choirs in high school, but I still don’t know where the railroad tunes come from.”
Everyday is holds a different task for Goetzinger, but this summer will be one for the roses!
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