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  • Author or Editor: James R. Nechols x
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A survey conducted at farmers' markets in eastern Kansas showed that more consumers purchased pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns than for cooking. One to four jack-o-lantern pumpkins are purchased annually per consumer. Whether or not the pumpkins are treated with insecticides to control squash bugs and regardless of their intended use, consumers preferred U.S. no. 1 grade, which sell at the higher retail price of $0.33/kg. At least 90% of the consumers surveyed would pay 20% more than the retail price for insecticide-free pumpkins. About two-thirds of those polled would pay 30% more. Cost-benefit data indicate that the higher prices consumers would pay may not be sufficient for growers to produce insecticide-free pumpkins economically using only biological control. However, if biological control is integrated with host-plant resistance, the higher prices may be sufficient for growers to produce insecticide-free pumpkins.

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Biological and chemical control strategies for the twospotted spider mite (TSM; Tetranychus urticae) were evaluated in a greenhouse experiment replicated over time in mixed production of ivy geranium (Pelgargonium peltatum ‘Amethyst 96’) and two impatiens cultivars (Impatiens wallerana ‘Impulse Orange’ and ‘Cajun Carmine’). Chemical control using the miticide bifenazate was compared with two release strategies for biological control using the predatory mite, Phytoseiulus persimilis. Specific treatments included 1) a single application of bifenazate at 0.3 g·L−1 formulation (22.6% a.i.); 2) a single release of predatory mites at a 1:4 predator to pest ratio based on sampled pest density; 3) a weekly release of predatory mites at numbers based on the area covered by the crop; and 4) an untreated control. TSM populations were monitored for 4 weeks. After another 4 weeks, when plants were ready for market, plant quality ratings were recorded. The number of TSM per leaf dropped for all treatments on all genotypes but increased in the untreated plants. On ivy geranium, the fact that there were significantly more TSM on untreated plants was not reflected in average plant quality, but it did reduce the proportion of containers rated as salable at full price compared with both chemical and biological control. On impatiens, both treatment and cultivar had significant effects on the mean plant quality rating and on the proportion of containers rated as salable at full price. The use of a sampling plan to determine the appropriate number of predators to release was as effective as the currently recommended management treatments for TSM in bedding plants.

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