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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: BIOLOGICALLY BASED MANAGEMENT OF INVASIVE INSECT PESTS AND WEEDS

Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit

Title: Economic impact of tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) on Florida cattle production

Authors
item Salaudeen, Tajudeen -
item Thomas, Michael -
item Harding, David -
item Hight, Stephen

Submitted to: Weed Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 2, 2012
Publication Date: June 1, 2013
Citation: Salaudeen, T., Thomas, M., Harding, D., Hight, S.D. 2013. Economic impact of tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum) on Florida cattle production. Weed Technology. 27(2):389-394.

Interpretive Summary: Tropical soda apple (TSA) is a plant native to South America and was first found in Florida in 1988. The plant has spread throughout the southeastern U.S. from Texas to the Carolinas and is a problem in pastures. Cattle avoid the spiny leaves and stems of TSA and the weed can take over a pasture. Scientists with USDA-ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Tallahassee, FL, along with Florida A&M University, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission researchers, conducted a written questionnaire survey to document the economic impact and extent of TSA disruption on Florida cattle production. Over 80% of the survey respondents reported TSA on their ranches, and over 65% declared the plant to be a major problem for their cattle operation. The level of TSA infested pastureland on ranches that reported TSA ranged from a low of 4% in north Florida to a high of 12% in central Florida. The most common strategy by ranchers to TSA invasion was application of herbicides and mowing. This strategy was used by 32% of respondents with TSA infestations in north Florida, 75% in central Florida, and 76% in south Florida. Using the economic input/output model IMPLAN, TSA control costs resulted in economic losses throughout Florida of $15 million annually to cattle producers and their supporting business sectors.

Technical Abstract: A written survey administered to 3,500 Florida cattle producers in 2006 documented tropical soda apple, as the most common pasture weed across the state of Florida. Over 80% of the survey respondents reported tropical soda apple on their ranches, and over 65% declared the plant to be a major problem for their cattle operation. The level of tropical soda apple infested pastureland on ranches that reported tropical soda apple ranged from a low of 4% in north Florida to a high of 12% in central Florida. The most common strategy by ranchers to tropical soda apple invasion was application of herbicides and mowing. This strategy was used by 32% of respondents with tropical soda apple infestations in north Florida, 75% in central Florida, and 76% in south Florida. Some ranchers reduced the cattle stocking rate as a consequence of tropical soda apple infestations. This negative impact was reported by only 2% of ranchers in north Florida and 7% of ranchers in south Florida. Using the economic input/output model IMPLAN, tropical soda apple control costs resulted in economic losses throughout Florida of $15 million annually to cattle producers and their supporting business sectors.

Last Modified: 11/22/2014
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