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Integrated Pest Management strategies to reduce chemical pesticides in strawberry

The Issue

Strawberry is the 5th most important agriculture commodity in California, contributing to 88% of the fresh strawberries produced in the U.S. (USDA-NASS, 2015). According to CDFA's Pesticide Use Report (2014), more than 200,000 pounds of chemical insecticide and miticide were used on strawberries in 2012. Arthropod pests such as lygus bug, western flower thrips, two-spotted spider mite, and the greenhouse whitefly are among the important targets that require a significant amount of pesticide applications. Non-chemical alternatives are generally perceived to be less effective, and some of them are limited to organic agriculture. However, developing an effective strategy to balance the use of chemical and non-chemical alternatives without compromising the efficacy is essential.

What Has ANR Done?

Surendra Dara, UCCE Advisor for strawberry and vegetable crops, has led large-scale field studies to evaluate the potential of integrating of botanical and microbial pesticides with current pest management practices to develop environmentally sustainable pest management strategies. The studies were carried out on commercial strawberry fields at Manzanita, Goodwin, and Sundance Berry Farms in Santa Maria from 2012 to 2015.

The Payoff

Reduce pests by incorporating non-chemical alternatives into pest management

The results of the studies demonstrate that existing and new chemistries, as well as combinations of botanical and microbial control options, are available and effective. The rotational programs in 2013–2015 tested 33 different treatment options. While some were more effective than others at reducing pest populations, the results demonstrate that incorporating non-chemical alternatives can have a significant impact. It was possible to reduce the number of chemical insecticide applications, and lower rates of chemical pesticides to reduce pests, while helping manage insect resistance to pesticides. These results also underscore the role of non-chemical alternatives beyond organic agriculture and their potential in conventional cropping systems. Incorporating these alternatives into an integrated pest management strategy reduces the reliance on effective chemical pesticides, which could become ineffective if overused. Link to the 2015 study: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=19641

Clientele Testimonial

“These studies are important for us to find out effective chemical and non-chemical options for managing strawberry pests. We recognize the importance of IPM strategies to reduce resistance problems, and Surendra’s studies provide critical information necessary to improve strawberry IPM.” Dave Murray, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce

“[Based on Dr. Dara’s research], I have incorporated [biological insecticide] into my spray program to control these pests with very little mortality to my predatory mites. I have had significant success in my organic fields. [Dr. Dara’s] work is important to me and has changed the way I farm my berries.” Rod Koda, Shinta Kawahara Co.


Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry, Vegetable Crop and IPM Advisor, skdara@ucanr.edu
Research results: