- Vegetables: cucurbits
- Additional Plants: African marigolds, Cowpea, Sweet alyssum
- Crop Production: cropping systems, intercropping
- Education and Training: decision support system
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, physical control
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
Zucchini squash is a high value vegetable crop in Florida valued at approximately $67 million. Key insect pests including the silverleaf whitefly and the melon aphid, and key plant-parasitic nematodes such as the root-knot nematode attack zucchini squash causing yield losses up to 80 percent. Most researchers have evaluated pest control practices on either insect pests or root-knot nematode. However, chemical pesticides, cultural practices, or biological control used as separate strategies are not effective at reducing pest populations under non-damaging levels. This project proposes to evaluate a combination of non-pesticidal approaches to control key pests in organic squash crops with the ultimate objective of improving food safety, limiting the effects of pesticides on non-target organisms and maintaining the environmental health.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Evaluate the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants on aphids, silverleaf whiteflies, and melonworm populations attacking zucchini squash.
- Assess the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants together with P. penetrans for management of root-knot nematode in zucchini squash production.
- Determine the effects of African marigolds and cowpeas used as cover crops and companion plants on the soil suppressiveness of root-knot nematode induced by P. penetrans and the bacterial resilience after cover crop/zucchini squash rotations.
- Develop and provide educational materials on cultural and biological management of key insect pests and root-knot nematode attaching zucchini squash as a component of an extension and outreach plan.