- Vegetables: tomatoes
- Pest Management: biorational pesticides, integrated pest management
- Production Systems: organic agriculture
Florida ranks first in production of fresh market tomatoes. Per acre tomato production cost in Florida often exceeds $16,000 in large part due to the high cost of pest management. Survey results have consistently ranked whiteflies as the most serious insect pest influencing tomato production. The silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia tabaci Gennadius, Hemiptera: Aleyrodidae) is a serious pest of tomatoes in Florida. The pest was reported in Florida as early as 1900 by Quaintance. The invasion of a new biotype or species in 1986, named successively "biotype B", Bemisia argentifolii, and more recently, the Q-biotype or Mediterranean whitefly was identified. This marks the first time the Q-biotype of B. tabaci has been found outside a greenhouse or nursery in the United States.
In 2016, Q-biotype whitefly expanded to eight Florida counties. The pest feeds both in the immature and adult stages by sucking plant juices, generally on the underside of leaves. Indeed, the pest poses serious threats through the plant viruses it transmits and resistance to insecticides is of grave concern to tomato growers and industry. Therefore, tomato growers in the Sunshine State urgently need sustainable solutions to control this invasive pest.
After evaluation and testing of bio-based pesticides and organic oils, recommendations will be provided to growers for the effective and less costly options to control white flies in conventional and organic tomato production in Florida.
Objective 1: Determine effectiveness of selected biopesticides (organic oils) to manage whiteflies and viral diseases in tomatoes.
Objective 2: Provide sustainable solutions to tomato growers and increase their crop productivity and profitability.