American chestnut was once the dominant tree species in much of the eastern United States. Breeding efforts following the devastating chestnut blight in the early 1900s have made growing chestnuts an increasingly viable option for producers. Pest pressures still limit production, however. Lesser chestnut weevil larvae feed inside of chestnuts rendering them unmarketable and causing substantial losses. This project evaluates the viability of two biological control agents, entomopathogenic nematodes and entomopathogenic fungi, for the control of chestnut weevil. The entomopathogens have proved effective in controlling other, related, weevils. We seek to establish their effectiveness as an attractive, environmentally friendly, control option for organic chestnut production. Success in this project would remove a primary barrier to productive chestnut production and facilitate economic development in this nascent industry.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project seeks to demonstrate that biological control using entomopathogenic fungi and entomopathogenic nematodes is a viable method for control of chestnut weevil in the Northeast. Success in this project will provide producers with an environmentally friendly, effective method at increasing organic and conventional chestnut production.