With the desert produce season almost completed and the spring melon season beginning, now is a good time to review the insecticide chemistries commonly used in your insect management programs. This is an important consideration as you make the transition from winter produce to alfalfa, spring melons and summer cotton where many of the same insecticide products are available in all these commodities. Sustaining long-term insecticide efficacy that provides cost-effective crop protection requires a conscious effort on the part of PCAs and growers to use insecticides responsibly. Over the past 30 years, Agrochemical Manufacturers have developed and brought to market over 20 new classes of chemistry that are highly effective, selective, and significantly safer than their chemical predecessors. These include the neonicotinoids, spinosyns, tetramic acid derivatives and anthranilic diamides to name a few. Most recently, we have seen new feeding disruptor products, PQZ (pyrifluquinazon) and Versys/Sefina (afidopyropen) being applied to fall melons for virus management and in winter vegetables for aphid management. Although, the development of new insecticide chemistries has been a bit slow over the past few years, we’re now seeing industry beginning to develop several new experimental insecticides for desert crops. You’ll be pleased to know that several compounds are being targeted for western flower thrips. Of course, at best many of these products are a few years away from registration. But this is great news as many of the older products are slowly being phased out of the marketplace. It was just a couple of years ago that flubendiamide (Belt, Vetica) was removed from the market, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) is now gone, and EPA is currently proposing label changes to the neonicotinoids which could impact their use on many important crops. Thus, it is imperative to sustain the efficacy of the newer insecticide tools currently available and Insecticide Resistance Management (IRM) is now more important than ever. The most fundamental approach to IRM is to minimize the selection of resistance by a pest to any one type of insecticide chemistry. The key to sustaining insecticide susceptibility is to avoid exposure of successive generations of an insect pest population to the same MOA. Historically, alternating, or rotating compounds with different modes of action (MOA) each time you spray has provided sustainable and effective IRM in our desert cropping systems. When it is comes to IRM; “rotation, rotation, rotation”. In other words, never expose a generation of insects to the same MOA more than twice. The Insecticide Resistance Action Committee (IRAC), a coordinated crop protection industry group, was formed to develop guidelines to delay or prevent resistance. Using their most recent information we have produced a brief publication which provides the latest local information on the modes of actions, routes of activity and pest spectrum for important insecticide chemistries used in desert produce and melon crops - see the attached Insecticide Modes of Action on Desert Produce Crops. This classification list will provide you with an additional set of guidelines for the selection of insecticides that can be used in desert IPM programs.
Fusarium wilt of watermelon, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, is one of the oldest described Fusarium wilt diseases and the most economically important disease of watermelon worldwide. It occurs on every continent except Antarctica and new races of the pathogen continue to impact production in many areas around the world. Long-term survival of the pathogen in the soil and the evolution of new races make management of Fusarium wilt difficult.
This year we have a lot of watermelon fields infected with Fusarium from Winterhaven to Yuma, Wellton, and Mohawk Valley. Rain, and overwatering of fields when plants set fruits might have contributed to the disease development.
Symptoms of Fusarium can sometimes be confused with water deficiency, even though there is plenty of water in the field. In Yuma valley we have seen fusarium problem in some overwatered fields.
Initial symptoms often include a dull, gray green appearance of leaves that precedes a loss of turgor pressure and wilting. Wilting is followed by a yellowing of the leaves and finally necrosis. The wilting generally starts with the older leaves and progresses to the younger foliage. Under conditions of high inoculum density or a very susceptible host, the entire plant may wilt and die within a short time. Affected plants that do not die are often stunted and have considerably reduced yields. Under high inoculum pressure, seedlings may damp off as they emerge from the soil.
Initial infection of seedlings usually occurs from chlamydospores (resting structure) that have overwintered in the soil. Chlamydospores germinate and produce infection hyphae that penetrate the root cortex, often where the lateral roots emerge. Infection may be enhanced by wounds or damage to the roots. The fungus colonizes the root cortex and soon invades the xylem tissue, where it produces more mycelia and microconidia. Consequently, the fungus becomes systemic and often can be isolated from tissue well away from the roots. The vascular damage we see in the roots is the defense mechanism of the plant to impede the movement of pathogen.
Disease management include planting clean seeds/transplants, use of resistant cultivars, crop rotation, soil fumigation, soil solarization, grafting, biological control. An integrated approach utilizing two or more methods is required for successful disease management.
Controlling Disease and Weeds with Band-Steam – Yuma Trials Show Good Promise
In previous articles (Vol. 11 (13), Vol. 11 (20), Vol. 11(24)), I’ve discussed using band-steam to control plant diseases and weeds. Band-steaming is where steam is used to heat narrow strips of soil to temperature levels sufficient to kill soilborne pathogens and weed seed (>140 °F for > 20 minutes). The concept is showing good promise. This past season, three trials were conducted examining the efficacy of using steam for disease and weed control in Yuma, AZ. In the studies, steam was applied in a 4-inch-wide by 2-inch-deep band of soil centered on the seedline using a prototype band-steam applicator (Fig.1). The band-steam applicator is principally comprised of a 35 BHP steam generator mounted on top of an elongated bed shaper. The apparatus applies steam via shank injection and from cone shaped ports on top of the bed shaper.
Trial results were very encouraging as the prototype applicator was able to raise soil temperatures to target levels (140°F for >20 minutes) at viable travels speeds of 0.75 mph. Steam provided better than 80% weed control and significantly lowered hand weeding time by more than 2 hours per acre (Table 1). Results also showed that Fusarium colony forming units (CFU) were reduced from 2,600 in the control to 155 in the 0.75 mph and 53 in the 0.5 mph treatments, respectively (a more than 15-fold reduction). A significant difference in Fusarium wilt of lettuce disease incidence was not found, however disease infection at the field site was low (< 2%) and differences were not expected. At 0.5 mph, fuel costs were calculated to be $238/acre which was considered reasonable and consistent with the values reported by Fennimore et al. (2014).
An unexpected finding was that plants in steam treated plots appeared to be healthier and more vigorous than untreated plots (Fig. 2). This trial is still in progress and it will be interesting to see if this improved early growth translates into increases in crop yield.
In summary, early trial results are showing good promise for use of band-steam as a non-herbicidal method of pest control. We plan on conducting further trials in this multi-year study. If you are interested in evaluating the device on your farm and being part of the study please contact me. We are particularly interested in fields with a known history of Fusarium wilt of lettuce and/or Sclerotinia lettuce drop that will be planted to iceberg or romaine lettuce.
As always, if you are interested in seeing the machine operate or would like more information, please feel free to contact me.
This work is supported by Crop Protection and Pest Management grant no. 2017-70006-27273/project accession no. 1014065 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Arizona Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and the Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council. We greatly appreciate their support. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A special thank you is extended to Mellon Farms for allowing us to conduct this research on their farm.
Fennimore, S.A., Martin, F.N., Miller, T.C., Broome, J.C., Dorn, N. and Greene, I. 2014. Evaluation of a mobile steam applicator for soil disinfestation in California strawberry. HortScience 49(12):1542-1549.
Click link below or picture to see the band-steam and co-product applicator in action!
Contact herbicides are those that only affect the part of the weed that they “contact” They don’t move into or affect any other part of a plant. They were the first herbicides used and surprisingly, they still are better at controlling some weeds than any other products that have been developed. They usually control only small weeds with good coverage although some of them will kill large malva , Purslane and some other difficult to kill weeds. Goal, Sharpen, Treevix and Gramoxone, which are all contacts, will kill malva and purslane while systemic herbicides like Glyphosate and 2,4-D, misses them. Maestro or Bucril (Bromoxynil), also an old contact, will kill swinecress while many systemics like the growth regulators ,miss it. Glufosinate( Liberty, Rely) is a contact that is very broad spectrum and kills more grasses and broadleaves than many systemic herbicides. These all work very fast and in this age of immediate gratification ,you don’t have to wait long. Most have little soil residual activity (except Goal, Chateau and a couple others) Goal and Chateau are contacts but used mostly preemergence to the weeds. They “ contact” the weeds when they emerge at the surface. which is a benefit where double or triple cropping is common. Most( again except Goal) are not volatile but will cause pretty clear contact injury when the spray moves to sensitive crops. Paraquat was registered in 1959 and is still a very useful tool for desiccating plants. Many restrictions have been put on its use because of its toxicity to humans. Most contact herbicides are non-selective and will injure most living plant tissue. They are used selectively with directed spray or timing. Adjuvants are often required to increase absorption, spreading and sticking.