Using Soybean Oil as a Pesticide on Nursery Stock

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  • 1 1Dept. of Plant and Soil Science, The Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901
  • 2 2Dept. of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design, The Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901
  • 3 3Dept. of Entomology and Plant Pathology, The Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901

Our research has previously shown that soybean oil can substitute for petroleum oil for controlling insects on fruit trees. Soybean oil may also be a safe, environmentally friendly pesticide to use on nursery stock. The objectives of these experiments were to evaluate phytotoxicity of soybean oil to nursery stock and efficacy for mite control. Four replications of container-grown plants of `Alberta' spruce, `Emerald' arborvitae, `Leyland' cypress, Canadian hemlock, and `Andorra' juniper were sprayed on 26 Mar. with 0%, 1.0%, 2.0%, or 3.0% soybean oil; or 2.0% petroleum oil. None of the oil treatments caused phytotoxicity. The same plants were sprayed on 1 Aug. with 0%, 1.0%, 2.0%, or 3.0% soybean oil. Application of 1% or 2% soybean oil appeared to be non-phytotoxic to spruce, but 3% soybean oil caused slight terminal necrosis. Arborvitae, cypress, hemlock, and juniper were not injured by spraying 1% to 3% soybean oil in the summer. Container-grown burning bush plants with mite infestations were sprayed on 20 Sept. with 0%, 1.0%, 2.0%, or 3.0% soybean oil; or with 1.0% SunSpray petroleum oil. Container-grown mite-infested `Andorra' juniper plants received the same treatments, except for the 3% soybean oil. Application of 1% or 2% soybean oil to burning bush or to juniper shrubs resulted in >97% and 87% control of mites 7 and 14 days, respectively, after treatment.

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