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  • Author or Editor: Ric Bessin x
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Farmers' field trials conducted in western Kentucky counties in 1995 and 1996 showed that dramatic reductions in insecticide usage are possible using scouting and action thresholds. Five-acre plots were scouted and treated according to action thresholds while adjacent 5-acre plots were treated weekly with insecticides. Seven out of 10 insecticide sprays were eliminated, saving $65/acre for the 1995 season. There were no differences in yield, insect damage, or fruit quality between the scouted plots and the plots that were treated weekly. Assuming similar low pest populations in all 885 acres of the company's contracted fields, savings could have amounted to nearly $31,000 for 1995 after deducting scouting costs. There were no yield or quality differences from three test plots treated according to regularly scheduled applications and three plots treated according to action thresholds for insect pests and according to Tomcast predictions for fungal disease control in 1996. We have demonstrated the value of using Tomcast as an aid in making fungicide spray scheduling decisions for processing tomatoes in Kentucky. Although we were able to greatly simplify the Tomcast-CR10 datalogger interface program in 1996, there were still difficulties in getting information from the university-based computer to the company making spray applications. The company will be able to access the datalogger and obtain the information directly in 1997. The further analyses of “Skybit” satellite data collected in 1996 should also tell us whether this type of information might be used instead of a remote datalogger thus simplifying the process even further. We plan to build on the quick adoption of the Tomcast system and to make it sustainable by transferring “ownership” to the growers and processing company in 1997.

Free access

Pest management in cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) cropping systems is challenging. As a result, pesticides are heavily used for managing insect pests and diseases. This work focused on the application of integrated pest management (IPM) techniques to control pests and reduce reliance on insecticide sprays while maintaining the quality and quantity of marketable yields in two commonly grown cucurbit crops: muskmelon (Cucumis melo) and summer squash (Cucurbita pepo). Plasticulture (raised beds covered in black plastic mulch) and strip tillage, two soil management systems commonly used for cucurbit IPM production, were compared to determine their impact on yield and pest numbers during the 2013–14 growing seasons. Additionally, the use of early season rowcovers and their impact on yield and pest pressure were investigated. Plasticulture use increased marketable yields compared with strip tillage for both summer squash and muskmelon, but strip tillage resulted in fewer total pests for both crops. Rowcover use did not have a consistent effect on insect pest numbers and showed a negative impact on the yield of both summer squash and muskmelon. No significant impacts on yield were observed when the interaction between rowcovers and the tillage system was investigated. The use of rowcovers impacted pest numbers, but these impacts were not consistent between insect pest species. Insecticide use was reduced in covered treatments, but only by one application. We concluded that these management techniques have the potential to be used in an IPM system, but the reduced marketable yield of strip tillage systems may reduce the adoption of this IPM technique for these crops.

Open Access