- Vegetables: cucurbits, tomatoes
- Crop Production: catch crops
- Pest Management: trap crops
The striped cucumber beetle Acalymma vittatum (F.), is a major pest of cucumber that overwinters in the Northern United States, and is a top priority of Michigan organic vegetable growers. This study will develop a plan for the management of cucumber beetle that is sustainable and appropriate to organic production through the use of improved trap crops. We will explore the effects of plant diversity on cucumber beetle populations as well as the ability of biological attractants to enhance the effectiveness of a trap crop in the management of cucumber beetle. The effectiveness of plant diversity and the different trap crop treatments will be measured by the relative numbers of cucumber in the main crop and the trap crop (if any) of each treatment, compared to the cucumber beetle densities in a cucumber monoculture. Damage to the cucumber plants such as percent defoliation and the cucumber yield of each treatment will also be recorded. Our field research will result in a masters thesis, a number of scientific and outreach publications, and a number of presentations targeted at local organic and transitioning organic growers. Our partnership with these growers will provide us with valuable feedback and catalyze co-learning. Our research and outreach events will contribute to the development of and generate discussion about sustainable agricultural practices and the use of trap crops in the growing of cucurbits and other vegetables. We seek to provide scientific support for and increase the number of growers who use sustainable organic approaches to agriculture.
Project objectives from proposal:
The short term goal of this project is to develop methods to manage striped cucumber beetle by incorporating improved trap crops into cucumber fields. We also seek to add to the body of scientific and outreach literature on managing cucumber beetle with these methods that are acceptable to organic producers and traditional producers interested in adopting sustainable pest management approaches. Another goal is to compliment and enhance the pest management component of a recently funded USDA CSREES Organic Transition Program grant titled “Partnering to Cultivate Agriculture in Michigan and the Midwest.” We also seek to generate informed discussion about the use of trap crops among growers of cucurbits using the outreach framework of this project. Our intermediate term goals (which are consistent with both the larger organic project and NCR-SARE’s broad-based outcomes) are to catalyze co-learning, knowledge generation and innovation among Upper Midwest organic and transitioning farmers and to significantly enhance the number of farmers transitioning to organic production. The methods developed will also be applicable to traditional growers interested in more sustainable pest management and help improve the sustainability and profitability of cucumber production in the Midwest. Specifically, an improved approach to the use of trap crops for use in the pest management in cucurbit crops in the Midwest will be added to the larger organic project, as supported by this SARE project.