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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
To develop novel sustainable programs to manage thrips and thrips vectored tomato spotted wilt virus, one of the key pest complexes of vegetable crops in the southern USA, and deliver information to end-users.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The project will foster adoption of effective practices by providing readily accessible information to growers, commodity groups and other stakeholders. Field station and on-farm trials will provide sites where we will host demonstrations to compare the different cropping systems. We will develop plans with cooperating growers for them to continue with successful cropping systems, which should help facilitate wider adoption of these programs. To further promote awareness to growers, information will be delivered at appropriate commodity group and other stakeholder meetings (e.g., NRCS, Florida Small Farms, Florida Organic Growers). In addition, information will be published in grower oriented magazines, (e.g., Southeast Farm Press, Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Grower News, Florida Grower). Information will be posted on the currently established websites of each institution (IPM Florida:,; University of Georgia:; and ARS:

3. Progress Report:
Research and outreach activities conducted in this subordinate project relate directly to Objective 1 of the parent project in developing habitat manipulation strategies as a part of improving management of thrips and tomato spotted wilt virus. Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV), a viral disease transmitted by thrips, is the most important pest problem for vegetable producers in the southeastern USA and cannot be controlled with insecticides. Therefore, scientists with USDA-ARS CMAVE and cooperators in the Cooperative Extension Service of Florida A&M University have initiated outreach efforts to demonstrate the use of certain companion plants can help reduce thrips and tomato spotted wilt in tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, and to increase the sustainability of producing these crops. ARS scientists and other University cooperators established the first year of a three year trial to evaluate four different cover crop systems for enhancement of beneficial insects and biotic resistance against pest thrips and the spread of TSWV in vegetable crop systems. The cropping systems are: i) conventional black plastic mulch; ii) traditional cover crop, with spring cash crops transplanted into overwinter leguminous cover crops; iii) transitional cover crop, with the cash crops planted on black plastic overlaid in a cover system; iv) beneficial insect cover crop system. The effects of cover crop systems on soil fertility and vegetable crop vigor and yield are being determined through systematic, periodic sampling. As the results are available, information will be presented to stakeholders at venues including the Gadsden County Tomato Forum.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 07/26/2017
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