Vegetable Crops News

Growing Eggplant With Biological Control Intensive Pest Management

In New Jersey the key insect pest on eggplant is the Colorado potato beetle. A biological control intensive pest management (BCIPM) program utilizing the egg parasitoid Edovum puttleri has been implemented on a limited acreage by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Bi-weekly field scouting and six weeks of parasitoid releases usually keep beetles below economically damaging levels.

Production practices and costs for conventional and BCIPM eggplant growers were compared to determine whether such a program is both beneficial and cost effective. Participating growers in each group provided records of all pesticide applications for the growing season and harvest records. Using standardized production costs, the two groups were compared, and an ecomomic analysis was conducted to assess the differences in profitability between the two systems.

Most of the BCIPM growers used rotenone alone or in combination with the synergist piperonyl butoxide for control of high larval potato beetle populations or other insect pests. They used significantly less pesticide than the conventional growers. However, if overall costs of production are increased even though pesticide use is reduced, growers will have little incentive to adopt a new program. The economic analysis showed that overall, BCIPM growers had higher yields and made more per acre than did the conventional growers, which should be an incentive for growers to convert to a BCIPM program.

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