Using Shearing to Control Nantucket Pine Tip Moth in Virginia Pine Christmas Trees
For many years the Virginia pine was the main crop for Christmas tree farmers in the southeast and there is still demand for it today. Consequently, new management practices are being developed to enable Christmas tree farmers to economically and safely grow Virginia pine.
Pine tip moth is a major pest of Virginia pine Christmas trees. When control measures are not taken, tip moths will greatly reduce the appearance of Virginia pines that are grown for Christmas trees. Spraying one- and two-year old trees presents few problems. However, once the trees reach three years and older, the amount of foliage, the amount of labor needed for spraying and exposure to insecticides greatly increase. These factors, combined with the intense management practices used for Virginia pine, are causing growers to reduce–and in some cases eliminate–Virginia pine trees from their operations.
Shearing, which is used to shape Christmas trees, will be investigated as a control measure to reduce or eliminate insecticide treatments for pine tip moth. Once Virginia pine trees have reached the age of three years, they require two shearings a year to produce well shaped and healthy Christmas trees. Since pine tip moth larvae feed in the tips of new shoots, which are sheared when they begin to harden off, the shearing greatly reduces the number of new tips and eliminates the tip moth larvae and the damage they cause. Two locations of three-year-old Virginia Pine trees in the Georgia piedmont will be used in the study which will consist of five replicated treatments. The treatments will consist of different spraying regimens from no spraying to the maximum spraying used by growers.