Perimeter trap crop approach to pest management on vegetable farms

2003 Annual Report for LNE03-177

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2003: $139,527.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $108,434.00
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:
Ruth Hazzarad
University of Massachusetts
Jude Boucher
UNiversity of Connecticut Cooperative Extension

Perimeter trap crop approach to pest management on vegetable farms


Perimeter trap cropping (PTC) involves planting a more attractive trap crop so that it completely encircles and protects the main cash crop like fortress walls. Efficacy can often be improved by supplementing the system with other perimeter defenses (i.e. border sprays). In 2003, we set out to design and test PTC systems for 2-4 commodities in replicated research trials at university and commercial farms and to help popularize the use of these systems. Growers suggested the PTC systems to study and tested these and additional systems in commercial fields. A total of 24 Connecticut and Massachusetts growers installed PTC systems on 7 different commodities on over 98 acres of crops. Most growers found that PTC improved pest control, substantially reduced pesticide use, saved time and money, and was simpler to use than their conventional pest management program. In the first year of the grant, 14 publications on PTC were produced and 16 Extension presentations were conducted throughout the Northeast. First year milestones were exceeded in all categories and all performance target goals should be easily met in 2004.

Objectives/Performance Targets


Of the 800 New England vegetable growers that will learn about PTC, at least 26 growers will adopt PTC on one (16 farms) or more crops (10 farms); will reap pesticide reduction, pest control, crop quality, environmental, safety, time, profit or personal satisfaction benefits; and upon completion of the project, their farms will serve as examples of a novel whole-farm systems approach to pest management.



1) At least 40 growers will attend an introductory PTC meeting (March 2003); learn about pest biology, epidemiology and migration patterns; and half will volunteer to test, explore and implement PTC systems. At least 12 will actually install/evaluate PTC systems in 2003.

Two introductory PTC meetings were conducted by the Extension Educators, on 2 and 8 April, 2003, in Vernon, CT and Chicopee, MA. These meetings were held later than expected and were sparsely attended (4 growers), due to the late approval of agricultural funding by the federal government. Despite the late start in 2003, a total of 24 CT and MA growers attempted to install PTC systems on one or more crops: summer squash, butternut squash, cucumbers, peppers, pumpkins, cabbage and eggplant. Seven growers implemented PTC on multiple crops. Evaluations were conducted at 14 farms (3 more will be evaluated this month).

2) Replicated experiments in commercial fields and on research farms will be used to screen potential trap crop varieties, and test and verify 2-4 grower-designed/suggested PTC systems.

In 2003, replicated PTC experiments were conducted on at least 4 crops (summer squash and cucumbers in CT, butternut squash and cabbage in MA) at the UConn and UMass Research Farms. Two replicated variety trials were conducted in CT to help determine the best trap crops to use in different systems. Three PTC systems were replicated on commercial farms (6 summer squash-CT, 4 cucumbers-CT, 7 butternut-MA). A similar number of farms, using the conventional full-field spray approach, were also evaluated in the control groups. A second year of studies will be conducted on these commodities in 2004.

3) Over 600 New England vegetable farmers will learn about PTC research/outreach results at conferences, other Extension/grower talks, and by newsletter/web site articles/fact sheets.

In 2003, at least 1,743 New England growers and 1,993 Northeast growers learned about PTC research and outreach results at conferences, other Extension/grower talks, and by newsletter/web site articles/fact sheets (see Publications/Presentations). Many more were exposed to the concept in poster display sessions and through web site fact sheets. Up to 1,000 growers will hear about PTC in Educator and grower talks this winter at the New England Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Conference, and at annual conferences for CT, MA, VT, NH, NOFA and the NJ Vegetable Growers’. PTC recommendations/results for various crops have also been published in the new 2004-2005 New England Vegetable Management Guide and have been submitted in 2 refereed articles for the Journal of Extension to help popularize PTC systems throughout the county and beyond.

4) Over 200 farmers will learn about PTC directly from mentor growers/Educators at twilight meetings and farm tours. An additional 14 growers will install PTC systems in 2004.
In 2003, 175 growers learned about PTC at 2 twilight meetings (10 July Northford, CT, and 15 July Sharon, MA) and at farm tours at the UConn (17 July) and UMass (13 August) Research Farms (see Publications/Presentations). New PTC implementors will be recruited this winter from the list of farmers attending the twilight meetings and farm tours last summer or from volunteers after conference talks. Three additional growers, from the list of 2003 implementors, have already stated that they will try a second crop in 2004. Educators will attempt to evaluate PTC systems on at least 9 new farms in 2004 to bring the total to 26, as stated in our performance target. In 2004, the Connecticut twilight meeting will take place in July at Pinecroft Farms in Somers, CT, the premier wholesale operation in the state.

5) At least 20 implementers will attend post-season farmer-to-farmer discussion group(s) to help provide feed back to educators, and to form a post-project support group.

On 3 December 2003, 20 CT and MA growers and Educators met at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA to discuss their 2003 experiences using the various PTC systems. Ideas were voiced which will help in writing new drafts of fact sheets with PTC recommendations. All attendees received contact information for all participants. The new grower/owner of the former Cains Co. processing plant in Deerfield Massachusetts also attended the meeting and, with the help of the MA Extension Educator, will be attempting PTC on up to 400 acres of cucumbers in 2004.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

In 2003, we evaluated a single trap crop row of ‘Blue Hubbard,’ a border-row insecticide application, and a combination of the two strategies for protecting centrally-located unsprayed main crops (cucumbers and summer or butternut squash) from cucumber beetles and bacterial wilt. In each experiment, these treatments were compared with control plots consisting solely of the main crop. A similar experiment was conducted on cabbage using trap crops for flea beetles and caterpillar pests.

Some of the cucumber results were very impressive. When the trap crop was sprayed it dramatically reduced defoliation on cucumber seedlings in the center and completely eliminated plant death due to direct feeding damage. Nine percent of the plants were lost directly to beetle feeding in the center of control plots. The sprayed trap crop barrier also dramatically reduced losses from bacterial wilt compared with the control plots. Total plant death (directly from defoliation and from bacterial wilt) dropped from 30% in the center of control plots to 14% for the cucumbers in the sprayed trap crop plots by final harvest. When compared with the control, the sprayed PTC treatment increased cucumber yields by 33% or 148 boxes per acre. For summer squash, both the percent injured leaves and the percent defoliation per plant were significantly reduced for both trap crop treatments compared with control plots. Analysis on all four commodities is still being conducted.

Connecticut growers using the technique on their summer squash (6 growers), cucumbers (4), peppers (4) and eggplant (1) compared the PTC system to their former conventional management system, that relied on multiple full-field sprays to control cucumber beetles or pepper maggots, and were quite impressed. In every case, the PTC system provided superior pest control compared to multiple full-field sprays and reduced insecticide use substantially. Growers estimated they saved almost 20% of their summer squash crop, a third of their cucumber crop, and 11% of their solanaceous crops by switching to PTC. These growers used PTC on a total of 43 acres (excluding pumpkins and cabbage).

On most farms, insecticide sprays for cucumber beetles or pepper maggots were limited to applications on the ‘Blue Hubbard’ or hot cherry pepper trap crops in the perimeter of the fields. One of the growers stated on a post-season survey that “it blew my mind to see the cucumber beetles flock to the perimeter rows!”

On one farm with extreme cucumber beetle populations, the grower applied an average of 1.5 perimeter sprays prior to bloom and 1.5 full-field sprays during harvest to his cucumber fields (2) to regain control of this pest. The sprays at harvest were necessary to prevent cosmetic damage, where the beetles feed on the fruit rind and render the crop unmarketable. In past years, he normally applied 4 full-field sprays per field and still failed to harvest or market any cucumbers. He harvested and marketed a great crop of cucumbers in 2003 using PTC. When asked in a post-program survey to comment about the PTC system, this grower stated that “I can not even get a crop of cucumbers on my farm without PTC!” This same grower was asked to plant a control field (without a trap crop) as part of the study. He made 4 full-field insecticide applications in the first 3 weeks and 60% of the plants showed signs of bacterial wilt before the plants even started to run. The control crop was lost.

Almost all the growers said that they also saved time and money using PTC and found the new system simpler to use than multiple full-field sprays. All the program participants gave the PTC system high marks for reducing: pesticide use, spray time/expense, possible chemical residues at harvest, possible secondary pest outbreaks, risk of crop damage, and impacts on environment/land/water. They also gave the system high marks for improving farm profitability, for easier/faster pest detection (improved monitoring) and for easier picking/harvesting schedules (reduced REI/dh restrictions). All the growers plan to use PTC again in 2004 and many plan to use it on additional crops next year. Six growers plan to attempt PTC on three or more commodities.

In Massachusetts, seven growers surrounded 30 acres of butternut winter squash with a ‘Blue Hubbard’ trap crop. Four of the five butternut growers that have completed the survey thus far, stated that their pest control was somewhat better using PTC than in previous years without a trap crop system. The remaining grower felt that his pest control was about the same. Three of the five growers felt that the PTC system was simpler than their usual method of pest control. All five growers said they were satisfied with the overall performance of the system on butternut and rated the PTC training program as good or excellent. Four said they would try the system again next year.



Boucher, T. J. and R. Durgy. Using Perimeter Trap Cropping to Move Towards a Whole-Farm Systems Approach to Pest Management. Journal of Extension (submitted 12/5/03).

Boucher, T. J. and R. Durgy. Using a Perimeter Trap Crop Approach to Pest Management on Summer Squash in New England. Journal of Extension (submitted 9/29/03).


Howell, J., R. Bananno, J. Boucher and R. Wick (eds.). 2003. 2004-2005 New England Vegetable Management Guide. Recommendations for PTC on peppers, squash and cucumbers included. New England Ext. Syst. Pub. pp.138.

Boucher, T. J. 2003. Developing a Perimeter Trap Crop System for Cucurbits, p. 25. In, Integrated Pest Management 2001-2002 Report to the Connecticut Legislature. R. A. Ashley, T. J. Boucher, D. Ellis, L. Los, L. Pundt, M. Chase. IPM Web Site Bulletin. ( pp. 36.


Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. Protecting Cucumbers from Beetles and Wilt with Perimeter Trap Cropping. In, Proceedings New Jersey Annual Vegetable Growers’ Meeting, 13-15 January, 2004. Atlantic City. NJ. (In Press).

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. Perimeter Trap Cropping for Summer Squash and Cucumbers. Proceedings: New England Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Conference, 11-13 December, 2003. Manchester, NH. (In Press).

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. Insect Management Update for Peppers & Eggplant. Proceedings: New England Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Conference, 11-13 December, 2003. Manchester, NH. (In Press).

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Trap Crops for Cabbage, Peppers and Cucurbits for Improved Pest Management, p. 38-39. In, Proceedings New Jersey Annual Vegetable Growers’ Meeting, 14-16 January, Atlantic City. NJ.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Why Perimeter Trap Cropping Works, p. 131-132. In, Proceedings 2003 New York State Vegetable Conference, 11-13 February, Syracuse, NY.


Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. Protecting Cucumbers from Beetles and Wilt with Perimeter Trap Cropping. IPM Web Site Fact Sheet. ( pp. 3. (will be posted in January).

Boucher, J. R. Durgy, R. Hazzard and A. Cavanagh. 2003. Perimeter Trap Cropping. p. 5-8. In, Vegetable Research Plots: UMass Research Farm Field Day, 13 August, 2003.

Boucher, J. 2003. Striped Cucumber Beetles; Acalymma vittata, (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). UConn IPM Web Site Fact Sheet. ( pp. 3.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Perimeter Trap Cropping Works. UConn IPM Web Site Fact Sheet. Ibid. pp. 3. Also, printed in UMass Vegetable Notes Newsletter (circulation 304) and sent to CT growers via direct mail (mailing list 460).

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Perimeter Trap Cropping for Yellow and Green Summer Squash. UConn IPM Web Site Fact Sheet. Ibid. pp. 3.


Boucher, J., R. Hazzard, R. Durgy and A. Cavanagh. 2003. Perimeter Trap Crop Farmer-to-Farmer Discussion Group. 3 December. Sturbridge, MA. Attendance: 20 people.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Improved Pest Management Through Perimeter Trap Crop Systems. Annual New England & Berry Growers’ Association Meeting. 1, November. Westport, MA. Attendance: 70.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. PTC Poster Display/Exhibit. Celebrating Agriculture! Woodstock Fairgrounds. 20 September. Woodstock, CT. 3,500 people attended.

Berkowitz, G. and J. Boucher. 2003. Arranged and provided student tour of a commercial vegetable farm with PTC for Dept. of Plant Science Vegetable Crop Management course. 10 September. Somers, CT. 10 Students.

Boucher, J. 2003. “Vegetable Crops IPM Recorded Telephone and Web Site Pest Message”. Provides the latest pest data from traps and crop scouting around the state with cutting-edge crop management recommendations. Used to supply PTC recommendations on several crops. Weekly updates provided June-September. (700 calls and hits/year)

Hazzard, R, A. Cavanagh and J. Boucher. 2003. UMass Research Farm Field Day. R. Hazzard & A. Cavanagh described PTC butternut squash and cabbage research and plots, J. Boucher spoke on “Hints to Successfully Implement Perimeter Trap Cropping in Crops.” 13 August. S. Deerfield, MA. 60 farmers attended.

Boucher, J., T. Morris, F. Himmelstein and R. Durgy. 2003. Tour of UConn’s Plant Science Research Farm Experimental Plots. 17 July. Storrs, CT. 25 farmers attended.

Hazzard, R. and J. Boucher. Ward’s Berry Farm Twilight Meeting. R. Hazzard and J. Boucher spoke on using PTC for cucurbits on commercial farms. 15 July. Sharon, MA. 45 people attended.

Boucher, J. and N. Cecarelli. 2003. Guided Tour of Cecarelli Farm. UConn’s Annual Vegetable Growers’ Twilight Meeting Series. 10 July. Northford, CT. 45 people attended.

Hazzard, R. and J. Boucher. 2003. Introductory Perimeter Trap Cropping Meeting to prepare MA farmer volunteers for implementation for Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Project. 8 April, Chicopee, MA. 2 farmers.

Boucher, J., R. Durgy and R. Hazzard. 2003. Introductory Perimeter Trap Cropping Meeting to prepare CT farmer volunteers for implementation for Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Project. 2 April, Vernon, CT. 2 farmers.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Vegetable Crops/IPM Educational Opportunities for Vegetable Growers/Perimeter Trap Cropping for Pepper Maggot: Control Pests While Reducing Pesticides (3 Posters). CT Ag Day at the Capital. 19 March, Hartford, CT.

Boucher, T. J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Why Perimeter Trap Cropping Works. NY State Vegetable Conference, 12 February, Syracuse, NY. >50 people attended (snow storm).

Boucher, T. J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Why Perimeter Trap Cropping Works. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station Vegetable Production Conference. 6 February, New Haven, CT. 35 people attended.

Boucher, J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Trap Crops for Cabbage, Peppers and Cucurbits for Improved Pest Management. New Jersey Annual Vegetable Growers’ Meeting. 14-16 January, Atlantic City, NJ. >200 people attended.

Boucher, T. J. and R. Durgy. 2003. Using Perimeter Trap Cropping for Cucumber Beetles on Commercial Farms. Annual Connecticut Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference, 16 January, Vernon, CT. 140 people attended.


Steve Bengtson

[email protected]
Cold Spring Brook Farm
979 Deming Road
Berlin, CT 06037
Office Phone: 8606660026
Nelson Cecarelli

[email protected]
PTC Implementor/2003 Mentor Grower for CT
Cecarelli Farm
476 Village St.
Northford, CT 06472
Office Phone: 2034840101
Gordon Burson

[email protected]
Pinecroft Farms Inc.
545 Somers Road
E. Longmeadow, MA 01028
Office Phone: 4135258476
Robert Durgy

[email protected]
Research Assistant
University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension
24 Hyde Ave.
Vernon, CT 06066
Office Phone: 8608753331
Andrew Cavanagh

[email protected]
Research Assistant
University of Massachusetts, Dept. of Entomology
Ag. Eng. Bldg.
Amherst, MA 01003
Office Phone: 4135773976
Kristen Wilmer

[email protected]
Research Assistant
University of Connecticut Dept. of Plant Science
1376 Storrs Road, U-4067
Storrs, CT 06269-4067
Office Phone: 8604861950