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Setting the Bait for Pecan Orchard Pests
By Tara Weaver
January 4, 1999
Pecan growers can keep damaging stink bugs out of their nut trees by planting peas around their orchard borders, an Agricultural Research Service study reports. ARS is USDA's chief research agency.
By planting a strip of speckled purple hull pea--a favorite of stink bugs--along orchard borders, growers can lure the pests away from their nut trees. The bugs stop to dine on the peas and don't make it to the money-making crop. This pea variety offers an ongoing feast to the bugs because it produces pods continuously over the season.
In a recent field study, ARS entomologist Michael T. Smith found that feeding damage within the pea-protected area was about 50 percent lower than in areas without the border crop.
Smith, formerly with ARS' Southern Insect Management Research Unit in Stoneville, Miss., developed the trap-crop strategy specifically to control stink bugs. Trap cropping concentrates the bugs in an area outside the orchard, so farmers can economically control them with insecticides and reduce broad-area sprayings.
Stink bugs are the worst pests of Mississippi pecan orchards, according to Smith, now with ARS' Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Laboratory in Newark, Del. The pests start the growing season in soybean fields. Before and during soybean harvest, they take flight into pecan trees and continue to enter orchards from August through pecan harvest, which may extend into November and December.
A story about this research appears in the January issue of ARS' Agricultural Research magazine. The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Michael T. Smith, ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Laboratory, 501 South Chapel Street, Newark, DE 19713; phone (302) 731-7330, ext. 41, fax (302) 737-6780, firstname.lastname@example.org.