Farm Calls: Biocontrol of Mexican Bean Beetle

This past week a grower called to ask about a recurring problem,

We’ve got a problem that hits us every year in our snap beans that we grow to sell at the local farm markets. Around June we experience heavy losses due to Mexican Bean Beetle. Somebody mentioned using parasitic wasps as a possible control agent.
What do you know about this and how do we go about getting them?

Mexican Bean Beetle: Adult and Larva

Mexican Bean Beetle:
Adult and Larva

Mexican bean beetle (MBB) has been a serious bean pest for decades in the Mid-Atlantic region, causing intolerable yield reductions. Fortunately, the Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Rearing Laboratory at the NJ Department of Agriculture rears small wasps (Pediobius foveolatus) that parasitize young Mexican bean beetle larvae before they can cause significant defoliation damage. The NJDA program saves about 21 tons of pesticide applications that would cost farmers about $450,000 a year.  [Read more…]

Growing Better Organic Potatoes in NJ

Leaf Hilling

Hilling Shredded Leaf Mulch
Organic Potato Demonstration @ RAREC

Shredded leaf mulch application is a worthwhile cultural practice for potatoes grown under organic conditions, resulting in an increase in marketable grades. The beneficial results are seen not just because of higher yields, but because of the incidence of fewer culls (potatoes with undesirable size and shape).

For organic production on NJ’s Coastal Plain soils, our studies show significant increase in marketable yields over bare ground and black plastic production; surprisingly, shredded leaf mulch application yields approached those of our conventional bare ground plots.

This report on field demonstrations conducted by potato expert Dr. Mel Henninger and Agricultural Agent David Lee, documents varieties studied and growing practices used with the aim of assisting Coastal Plains growers who wish to capitalize on the niche of local market, organic labeled potatoes.
[Read more…]