Scott Ludwig, Extension program specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension Service, is a presenter and organizer for Pest & Production Management Conference. Recently, he answered a few questions about the February 25-27 Orlando conference and offered a preview of his presentation on bio-control organisms and thrips management.
Educational sessions at Pest & Production Management Conference are shorter this year than past years. There are also breakout sessions at this year’s conference. What’s the advantage for attendees?
Last year Jim (Bethke), Cristi (Palmer) and I decided to make changes to how the conference program was organized. Instead of having a single speaker cover one topic in 60 minutes, we thought having shorter sessions would keep the program more lively. This enabled us to also have multiple speakers coving different aspects of the same topic. For example, this year we have Mary Hausbeck and Paul Fisher both addressing pathogens in water. The shorter time slots also allow more topics to be presented.
New this year, we decided to also have concurrent sessions. These sessions are designed with a hands-on approach. In each session, we will have multiple speakers addressing the topic, helping to answer questions growers have, and in some cases presenting hands on topics.
You’ll be discussing bio-control organisms along with a few colleagues during one of the breakout sessions. Are there any new bio-control organisms growers should know about or new uses for existing bio-controls we did not know about before?
Most of the biological control organisms we will be covering have been used in the industry for a number of years. Probably the newest organism we will be covering will be Amblyseius swirskii. This predatory mite feeds on eggs and larvae of whitefly and young thrips larvae.
Do you anticipate potential legislation to have an impact on the number of growers committed to using bio-controls?
The sustainability movement has many growers thinking about ways to change their production and pest management programs. However, in many states, growers are required to sell pest-free plants or they [face] quarantine law they have to abide by. This makes it difficult to move completely away from the use of conventional insecticides.
You’ll also be discussing thrips management, particularly chilli thrips, at P&PMC with the University of Florida’s Lance Osborne. Are there new developments that may help growers combat chilli thrips?
When chilli thrips first appeared in the U.S., we were unsure if this was going to be a quarantine pest and wanted to know what insecticides could be used most effectively to manage this new pest. As a result, there was a tremendous amount of work conducted to determine insecticide efficacy.
It turns chilli thrips are controlled with a broader range of insecticides than western flower thrips. As a result, we are more concerned about managing western flower thrips to avoid developing pesticide resistance. We will be addressing the use of biological control organisms for these pests and pheromone lures to help increase pesticide efficacy against western flower thrips, along with other unconventional management techniques.
About Pest Management Conference: For more information on Pest & Production Management Conference, presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, visit PestAndProductionManagement.com.