Food production in the Southeast is of significant economic importance and agricultural sustainability through providing locally sourced foods and opportunities for farming families. Peach is not only a significant economic industry in the Southeast, but it is also an important and enduring cultural icon which is under a severe threat from San Jose scale (SJS).
Scale insects can damage peach orchards, both acutely and over the long-term, but for decades growers were able to inadvertently control SJS with highly effective, but potentially dangerous insecticides directed toward the primary fruit-feeding insect pests. Thus, with the loss of these effective pesticides (eg. methyl-parathion) and increased regulations on other organophosphate insecticide use, growers have to seek a more integrated pest management approach. Growers need a management strategy that more effectively utilizes environmentally friendly insecticides, such as horticultural oils, and support the beneficial insects to help naturally control scale.
We therefore propose to evaluate the methodology by which horticultural oil is applied, specifically in regards to application rates and timing of a second spray (pruned versus un-pruned trees). Providing the highest possible coverage per tree with a high gallonage rate should ultimately lead to the highest SJS mortality, reducing the need for subsequent insecticide applications and thus increasing the beneficial insect abundance within the orchard.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Investigate the effectiveness of horticultural oil coverage through increased volume applied for San Jose scale suppression;
- Compare the effectiveness of horticultural oil coverage applied for San Jose scale suppression pre-peach tree pruning and post-pruning;
- Identify the natural enemy communities of San Jose scale in southeastern peach orchards and how they are impacted by management practices.