Improved management of striped cucumber beetle , Acalymma vittaum (F.) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) by using a squash trap crop and a polyculture of cucumber and tomato.
This project studies a comparison of the effects of different organic and sustainable non-crop vegetation and soil management techniques such as trap crops on striped cucumber beetle population dynamics.
A Blue Hubbard trap crop provided some early season protection, but the trap crop effect broke down late in the season, and was not as effective a control method as floating row covers. Including a tomato intercrop or adding a cucurbitacin spray or a pyganic spray to the trap crop failed to improve the trap crop’s effectiveness. Data were gathered on MSU campus at the Student Organic and Horticulture farms.
Intermediate-term: Catalyzing co-learning, knowledge and innovation among organic and transitioning farmers, and improving the sustainability and profitability of cucumber production in the Midwest.
Short-term: A sustainable pest management plan for cucumber beetle using improved trap crop effects, adding to scientific and outreach literature, and generating informed discussion about sustainable approaches to agriculture among growers.
Two years of data have been collected in 2006 and 2007 and are in the process of being analyzed. Preliminary results from the first year were presented at the 2006 National Entomological Society of America (ESA) meeting. A website for growers interested in using non-crop vegetation such as trap crops and cover crops to improve their vegetable production practices has been constructed and will be online soon.
The second year data is still being analyzed. The collected information will them be used to form a plan of action for cucumber growers interested in organic and sustainable production methods. A masters thesis and journal article publication based on this work are also underway.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
As an ongoing project, our impact on the agricultural community has been minimal thus far.
Our presentation at the ESA annual meeting and presence at the 2006 and 2007 Michigan Ag Expo has allowed us to speak with growers and share some of our early findings. We do not yet have any hard data on yield increase or dollars saved per acre. The main issue here is that the control methods we have been working with provide little to no late season protection, allowing beetles to scar the mature fruit and reduce marketable yield even if total yield has been increased.
Once our project is finished we hope to find a method for cucumber growers to deal with striped cucumber beetles that will save money and increase yield. Furthermore, we hope to contribute to the body of knowledge surrounding cucumber beetle behavior, to encourage organic and sustainable agricultural practices throughout Michigan, and to provide useful and practical information to such growers regarding sustainable agricultural practices such as cover crops and trap cropping.
Key Findings So Far:
• The use of a Blue Hubbard trap crop provides some, but not extremely high, protection against cucumber beetles early in the growing season as compared with cucumber in monoculture. However, the level of protection was not high enough for this technique to be used as a stand alone control measure. In 2007, mixing two trap crop cultivars in a row, one Blue Hubbard and another one less attractive, had benefits in extending the trap crop attractiveness longer in the season.
• Alternating tomato and cucumber rows (the polyculture) did not provide extra protection against the beetles.
• A floating row cover provided the best protection from cucumber beetles and improved
yield and fruit quality.
• The addition of a cucurbitacin spray to the Blue Hubbard trap crop did not significantly increase its effectiveness as a trap crop for striped cucumber beetles.
• Integrating a mixed rye-hairy vetch cover crop into the production system improved nutrient provisioning and cucumber and tomato yield.
• The benefit of compost applications was maximized only in systems with hairy vetch (legume) cover crop.
Michigan State University
442 Natural Science
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Office Phone: 5174323038