Location: Southern Horticultural Research
2013 Annual Report
The goal of the project is to evaluate the efficacy of pest management strategies for small scale tomato production. Tomatoes were chosen for this project as they are widely grown on small scale. Small scale production, generally for direct to consumer markets, is important both due to its providing additional economic input as well as increasing availability and affordability of nutritious food, particularly in rural communities. Production of fruits and vegetables is, traditionally, highly pesticide intensive and management costs represent a significant expense for fruit and vegetable growers. Evaluation and improvement of management techniques is important to increase the viability of small scale vegetable production. Most small scale producers rely on a spraying according to a calendar schedule for providing control of pests. Many small producers lack access to restricted use pesticides or resistant cultivars. This study will evaluate the economic impact of calendar pesticide sprays, spraying according to economic thresholds using conventional pesticides, and treating according to economic thresholds using organic management techniques. The cost of treatments in terms of materials and time will be considered in addition to the yield of marketable produce from each treatment. Given the wide range of available tomato cultivars, the effect of plant phenology on management will also be considered by evaluating the effect of the above treatments on an early and late maturing tomato variety.
In addition, the effect of high tunnels on populations on aphid, whitefly and thrips populations will be evaluated. High tunnels allow for earlier planting dates than in traditional production as well as allow for the season to be prolonged later in the year. The effect of these alterations to planting practice on insect populations is not well understood. Research locations for this project include Kiln (Hancock County), Biloxi (Harrison County), Poplarville (Pearl River County), USDA substation (Stone County), and Beaumont (Perry County).
Vegetable research is on-going at the Beaumont Horticultural Unit (BHU) in Perry County. Multi-year variety trials are on-going in southern peas and sweet corn (yellow and bi-color). A new variety trial was installed to evaluate hops production in the deep South. Ten varieties were planted along a 12’ tall trellis system. The demonstration “garden” plot continues to serve as an educational tool for both farmers and gardeners. Nearly 80 participants attended the 2012 Vegetable Field Day. The BHU has also hosted several school groups as well as local garden groups.