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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Byron, Georgia » Fruit and Tree Nut Research » Research » Research Project #429941

Research Project: New Tools for Managing Key Pests of Pecan and Peach

Location: Fruit and Tree Nut Research

Project Number: 6042-22000-023-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 1, 2015
End Date: Sep 30, 2020

Objective:
Objective 1: Develop alternative control strategies for the pecan weevil based on enhanced production, formulation delivery and efficacy of microbial control agents, and improved fundamental knowledge of natural enemies: Sub-objective 1a: determine the efficacy of biocontrol agents in suppressing the pecan weevil. Sub-objective1b: investigate the basic biology and ecology of biological control agents. Sub-objective1c: investigate improved methods of nematode production. Objective 2: Develop alternative control strategies for pecan aphids using banker plants, optimization of chlorosis-impeding plant bioregulators, and microbial control agents: Sub-objective 2a: assessment of banker plants for control of pecan aphid spp. in orchards. Sub-objective 2b: optimize orchard use of plant bioregulators to manage M. caryaefoliae injury. Sub-objective 2c: implement microbial control agents for pecan aphid management. Objective 3: Develop alternative control strategies for key peach pests (plum curculio, sesiid borers, and stink bugs) via reduced-risk insecticides, repellents, barriers, mating disruption, and application of entomopathogenic nematodes. Sub-objective 3a: control stink bugs with reduced-risk insecticides. Sub-objective 3b: assess repellants and barriers for management of peach pests. Sub-objective 3c: mating disruption to manage sesiids borers. Sub-objective 3d: develop entomopathogenic nematodes for control of key peach pests.

Approach:
Pecan and peach are important horticultural crops that can suffer severe losses in yield due to insect damage. The overall goal of this project is to provide economically and environmentally sound pest management strategies for control of key insect pests of pecan and peach. Objectives include alternative control strategies for key pecan pests (pecan weevil and pecan aphids) and key peach pests (plum curculio, sesiid borers, and stink bugs). Suppression of pecan weevil will focus on developing microbial control tactics including integrated entomopathogen applications and enhanced entomopathogen persistence through the use of cover crops and improved delivery. Additionally, pertinent basic studies on entomopathogen infection dynamics and delivery will be addressed. Management strategies for pecan aphids will 1) optimize usage of chlorosis-impeding plant bioregulators against the black pecan aphid, 2) incorporate banker plants into orchards for pecan aphid management and 3) identify and implement efficacious microbial control tactics. Suppression of key peach pests via reduced-risk insecticides, repellents, barriers, mating disruption, and application of entomopathogenic nematodes will be examined. Anticipated products from this research include novel alternative pest management tactics involving biocontrol agents, plant bioregulators, or other innovative strategies, improved methods for production, formulation, and delivery of biocontrol agents, and the filling of key knowledge gaps in basic insect pest and natural enemy biology and ecology.