Sustainably Managing Pests in Pecan Orchards
Pecan growers may be able to rely on host of integrated pest management tactics to better manage aphid pest populations in their orchards, according to the results of a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant.
University of Georgia graduate student Eddie Slusher and major professor Jason Schmidt studied yellow and black aphid phenology and parasitism impacts in Georgia pecan orchards in an effort to help growers more sustainably manage pecan pests.
They found that aphids tend to follow a pattern of rising and crashing throughout the season with peaks usually occurring in May and June, followed by another peak in late September and early October. Knowing the season phenology of aphids may help growers in better targeting their insecticide application programs.
Researchers also studied aphid parasitism, specifically the parasitoid Aphelinus perpallidus. They found that the parasitoid followed similar population peaks and crash trends as the aphids, suggesting that parasitoid numbers rise and fall with that of their host.
Additionally, researchers found that both aphids and parasitoids tend to populate the lower tree canopy in greater numbers than in other areas of the tree. This may be helpful for growers for integrated pest management strategies. Previous research has shown that insecticide coverage decreases significantly as pecan canopy height increases. However, parasitoids still play a key role in pest management in areas of the canopy where insecticidal control may fail.
SARE State Coordinators are vital for expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS, and other agricultural professionals, who will then help producers transition to a more sustainable agriculture.
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SARE IN GEORGIA
The Georgia SARE program is facilitated through a joint collaboration between the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University. Georgia SARE partners with researchers, extension faculty, producers, and community organizers to research and implement the best science-based practices available in all aspect's of Georgia's agricultural system.
If anything, this research is creating a producer-to-producer buzz around Southern stem blight. There’s nothing out there to manage it organically, and to be able to conduct this SARE-funded research that is creating conversation and asking questions about potential solutions has been very rewarding.
Professional Development Program
Within each state, agricultural educators work directly with farmers and ranchers to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. Through a program called the Professional Development Program (PDP), SARE state ag coordinators provide support for sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies.
SARE and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) offer the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program, which enhances Cooperative Extension personnel’s understanding of sustainable agriculture and provides broad-based, national exposure to successful and unique sustainable agriculture programs.