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Seedling Pests on Produce and Melon Crops at Stand Establishment (August 23, 2017)
Now that desert growers have begun planting fall melons and transplanting cole crops, PCAs will soon be faced with a number of important insect management decisions. As crops begin to emerge, they can expect to encounter a number of insect pests that have the potential to cause serious economic losses to crop stands. These seedling pests include flea beetles, crickets (sometimes grasshoppers), darkling and rove beetles, earwigs, and saltmarsh caterpillars (‘woolly worms’). These insects all have chewing mouthparts and most are capable of consuming large amounts of leaf tissue in a short period of time. Seedling crops at the cotyledon stage are most susceptible; these pests can devour entire cotyledons or outright kill small seedlings. If left unprotected, transplants and larger seedling plants can sustain significant feeding damage on the terminal growing points or newly emerged leaves. Not only can this feeding stunt plant growth, but can result in lack of stand uniformity and ultimately, maturity at harvest. Host crop sources for flea beetle, cricket and "woolly worm" infestations include numerous summer crops (e.g., sudan grass, cotton and alfalfa) and weeds (e.g., purslane). When checking my traps last weekend, I heard crickets chirping in Sudan grass fields next to my traps. At the Yuma Ag Center, we are also currently noticing high numbers of flea beetles on our melons, and crickets on surrounding sudan grass and weeds. Salt marsh caterpillars have not been detected, but are known to disperse from alfalfa and cotton, particularly Pima cotton. Experience indicates that melon fields planted adjacent to these crops/weedy areas are at a high risk from these seedling pests, particularly flea beetles. As summer crops are harvested or terminated during the next several weeks, these seedling pests typically move to the next available host crop; lettuce, cole crops and melons. Fortunately, there are many registered insecticide alternatives available that can be applied via sprinkler chemigation (i.e., pyrethroids) or foliar sprays (i.e., methomyl, neonicotinoids) that can cost-effectively minimize their abundance and damage to emerging produce and melon crops. Additionally, insecticide seed treatments are available for lettuce and broccoli that will protect stands from flea beetles (i.e., NipsIt). For more information on insect pests of leafy vegetables and melons at stand establishment please see Insect Management on Desert Produce and Melons: Pests at Stand Establishment.


Name the Insect
Alfalfa Seed Chalcid

Areawide Diamondback Moth Trapping Network

In response to the recent outbreaks of Diamondback moth (DBM) , Plutella xylostella in Yuma, we have established a pheromone trap network designed to monitor the activity and movement of adult populations of DBM. PCAs have had difficulty controlling DBM in cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower since October. Traps have been placed in Roll, Wellton, Dome Valley, Gila Valley and Yuma Valley in locations where cole crops are presently being grown or in areas where infestations were known to occur this fall.


Click here to see results of DBM pheromone trap network.

Remember, When in Doubt . . . . . “SCOUT”

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For questions or comments on any of the topics please contact Marco Pena at the Yuma Agricultural Center.
College of Agriculture, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.

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