SOLAR HEATING REDUCES INSECT INFESTATIONS IN RIPENING AND DRYING FIGS

in HortScience

Several experimental procedures were used to evaluate the influence of solar radiation on insect infestations in Calimyma and Adriatic variety figs (Ficus carica L.). Direct sunlight eliminated infesting insects and prevented further infestation of ripe figs drying on the ground for at least 10 days. Placement in the shade resulted in 12% insect infestation in figs within 3 days. Figs that fell naturally into sunlit areas contained almost no insects, whereas 31% of figs that fell into dense shade were infested. While ripening figs were still attached to trees, the level of insect infestation was 50% higher on the shady north side than the sunny south south side. The insect pests most frequently encountered in these experiments were nitidulid beetles and their larvae. Disease incidence was not affected by degree of exposure. We propose that cultural techniques to maximize exposure of ripening and drying figs to solar radiation could be developed as important pest management tools.

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