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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SUSTAINABLE SYSTEMS FOR INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF NATURAL ENEMIES

Location: Crop Protection and Management Research

Title: Pest insects and natural enemies in transitional organic cotton in Georgia

Authors
item Tillman, Patricia
item Lamb, Marshall
item Mullinix, Jr, Benjamin - UNIV OF GA

Submitted to: Journal of Entomological Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 17, 2008
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Citation: Tillman, P.G., Lamb, M.C., Mullinix, Jr, B.G. 2009. Pest insects and natural enemies in transitional organic cotton in Georgia. Journal of Entomological Science. 44(1):11-23.

Interpretive Summary: The demand for organically grown crops has increased at about 20% per year for the last 10 years due to consumer concern over food safety and the environment. However, there is a 3-yr period under the USDA National Organic Program Standard for farmers to transition their land to organic production from conventional production, and throughout this period, only compounds certified for use in organic production can be used for management of insects. Consequently, the goal for this research was to determine the prospects for transitioning to a totally organic management system for cotton and peanuts, and this is a report on the insect pest problems encountered during this transition period for these crops in Georgia. Worms, including tobacco budworms and corn earworms, and stink bugs, particularly the southern green stink bug and the brown stink bug, were the two major groups of insect pests in both cotton and peanuts. In cotton, big-eyed bugs and red imported fire ants were the most abundant predators while in peanuts the big-eyed bug and spiders were the most abundant predators of pest insects. The biopesticide neem oil was used for control of heliothine larvae. Currently, a biopesticide is not available for control of stink bugs so the main insect management problem in organic production of these crops is stink bugs. Other strategies, or combination of strategies, such as using Surround to repel stink bugs, planting a trap crop to lure stink bugs away from organic cash crops, and placing stink bug pheromone capture traps in or around fields to kill stink bugs, will need to be developed for management of these pests in organically-produced crops.

Technical Abstract: The goal for this research was to determine the prospects for transitioning to a totally organic management system for cotton and peanuts in small experimental plots in Georgia. This is a report on the insect pests encountered during this 3-yr transitional period. The heliothines, including Heliothis virescens (F.) and Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and the stink bugs, particularly Nezara viridula (L.) and Euschistus servus (Say), were the two major groups of insect pests in both cotton and peanuts. Eggs and larvae of the heliothine species were observed each year of the study on irrigated and non-irrigated cotton, but, in general, infestations of heliothines were higher on cotton in 2004 than in 2005 and 2006. Heliothine larvae were present in peanuts in 2004 but did not cause economic injury to this crop. Stink bugs caused economic injury to cotton only for the second year of the study. Stink bugs were present in peanuts for each year the study, but again they did not cause economic injury to the crop. Mainly E. servus adults were captured in stink bug pheromone-baited traps throughout the 2004 and 2005 growing seasons. In cotton, the big-eyed bug, Geocoris punctipes (Say), and red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta Buren, were the most abundant predators while in peanuts the big-eyed bug and spiders were the most abundant predators. The biopesticide azadirachtin was used for control of heliothine larvae. Because a biopesticide was not available for control of stink bugs, the main insect management problem in organic production of these crops was stink bugs. Other strategies, or combination of strategies, such as using Surround to repel stink bugs, planting a trap crop to lure stink bugs away from organic crops, and placing stink bug pheromone capture traps in or around fields to kill stink bugs, will need to be developed for management of these pests in organically-produced crops.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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