I gave a presentation to the Organic BMSB workgroup on how our growing year faired and what we did to rectify last year’s infestation. We improved marginally, however I look at improvement as a great step, no matter the measurement. Improvement equates to moving forward in our fight to grow fruits and vegetables organically against a devastating adversary.
I was finally able to put faces to the voices I have heard on all the conference calls. As usual, I learned more from everyone else then I was able to impart but that is why I wanted to be in the group to begin with. I could not stand by having suffered the losses from 2010 without trying to do something, education, as with most things, is the first step. At least this year I had much less anxiety presenting to such a distinguished group. I am still in awe of the work they do and the dedication they show. I am a babe in the woods filled with entomology experts, seasoned practitioners and other heavy hitters in the organic growing community. I met Jeff Moyer from the Rodale Institute and Dr. Russ Mizell from Florida State University. We followed Dr. Mizell's 2008 native stinkbug study to establish a trap crop solution for this year. During the two-day event, I found I was still writing jargon down, for later research, but the longer I listened the more things started to fall into place.
Entomologist from around the country showed up to participate. It was truly fascinating to sit and listen to the work that they have been doing this past year and years past. They have been studying this bug for sometime. It was not until the last few years that BMSB started to show their true capacity for fruit and vegetable damage. If left unchecked many small organic farms will suffer and more than likely go out of business. The Washington Post recently had an article about a peach grower, in the area, that decided to stop instead of continuing to suffer monetary loses due to the bug.
Orchards around Maryland and Pennsylvania are suffering great losses. The bug continues to hitchhike across the United States with no indication of abatement. Once in a place they multiply consuming the most desirable and costly flora. They are not only destructive they are dumb. They fly but they do not know how to land. They land by hitting something first. Then they either grasp on to the surface in order to stay put or bounce off to fall to the ground. Most times, they bounce off. If it is a hard surface, you hear them hit the surface and another thump when they hit hard ground.
Besides trap cropping we will try native parasitoids this year. Parasitoids lay eggs on their host and the larvae feed off the host in order to mature. As the larvae grow, the host dies. Like the Trichogramma wasp laying eggs on the green tomato hornworm. We will try different species and wasps that are predacious.
We are fortunate that we can participate in the group and learn as we go. I do feel better about growing but we are not out of trouble. This season’s grow area has hedgerows and tree lines surrounding the land. Both places are over-winter habitation areas for the BMSB. We will also plant near the barn, another highly concentrated area for over-wintering bugs. We have our planning cut out for us, we will need to come up with a perimeter defense that takes into account both ground and air assault. Adult BMSB are high in the trees and glide down to earth. Planting a trap crop too close to the trees will not stop them from making it into the cash crop area.
We will put up trap crops, physical barriers and try repellant plants on the interior. The idea of the repellant plant is if the bug gets through the trap crop the next thing they get to is an undesirable plant, which may turn them back around to the trap crop for food. We will have to see; what I do know is the more we learn the better able to educate others. If we are able to further that cause then it fits within our own mission. Without education, we are all lost.
Buy Local: Go out and meet your local farmer, they are waiting for you