Feb 24, 2022
Cold Temps Not Enough to Deter Pests

Edward Frick

(Sponsored) Much of the Southeast experienced temperatures at or below freezing for extended periods with snowfall as far south as Georgia this winter. But that alone won’t be enough to hold back insect pests as temperatures warm. 

“As we are coming out of winter and into spring, our insect pest populations are increasing,” says Edward Frick, sales representative with Coastal AgroBusiness in Monetta, South Carolina. “Our first insecticide sprays may vary by four to six weeks from year to year depending on winter temperatures, but the insects are coming.” 

Of particular concern to his vegetable-growing customers are thrips, worms, diamondback moth and spotted wing drosophila. 

“As we transition from spring to summer, daytime temperatures consistently in the upper 70s and the 80s, and nighttime highs in the 50s and 60s will trigger pest movement, especially for thrips,” Frick says. “Sometimes that can happen the first of April, but some years it can be the middle of May.” 

Although pest pressure for his grower-customers peaks in mid-July, Frick says most insect pest populations are reaching treatable levels by sometime in June. “Our pest pressure does not seem to be connected to either cold or warm winters,” he says. 

Several of his growers operate farms in Georgia and Florida as well as South Carolina and are able to monitor pest populations as they move north into the Carolinas. 

“Late April or early May is when that first wave of thrips usually hits,” Frick says. “If we have a warm winter, they move even quicker to South Carolina.” 

Frick estimates a three- to four-week difference between when thrips reach treatment thresholds in Florida and south Georgia and when they hit those levels in South Carolina. 

“We are all fighting the same pests,” he says. 

Frick recommends timely sprays of Radiant® SC insecticide to adequately control thrips in fruiting vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes. 

“Thrips can really scar up a pepper or tomato,” he says. “In addition to providing good control, Radiant offers shorter preharvest and reentry intervals compared with competing products.” 

Other advantageous product attributes Frick sees are minimized impact on beneficials and an expansive list of both labeled crops and pests controlled. This, he says, is especially important for diversified fruit and vegetable farming operations. 

While timing spotted wing drosophila and diamondback moth movement is more difficult to pin down, Frick says the first treatments in his area are generally between May and June. 

“Even years with colder-than-normal winters don’t seem to stop them from coming early,” Frick says. 

Often, he says, full moons and warmer temperatures will coincide with that first moth flight, especially for diamondback moth. 

“If you see one diamondback moth in the field, you are spraying,” he says. “And Radiant still has activity on diamondback moth. A lot of modes of action have developed resistance, but Radiant is still one of the few that continues to provide control. Radiant also provides really good control of spotted wing drosophila.” 

No matter the pest, Frick believes crop scouting and rotating modes of action are critical to successful long-term crop and yield protection. 

“Field scouting is especially important with our high-value crops. So is picking the right product,” Frick says. “Rotating modes of action is critical to controlling resistance development. We’ve got to protect the chemistry we have left.” 

 A hands-on sales representative, Frick says helping scout fields is a service he provides his customers. “It makes a difference because our growers are trusting us to make the right product recommendations for their fields.” 

Learn how you can prepare for pests this season at radiantsc.corteva.us.

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