Tomato and Pepper (Florida)
Coordinated by Muhammad Haseeb, (Muhammad.Haseeb@famu.eduEntomologist, Center for Biological Control, College of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Florida A&M University 

Background

Agriculture is the backbone of Florida’s economy, generating more than $120 billion in annual economic impact and supporting more than 2 million jobs. In 2013, the Sunshine State had 48,000 commercial farms, using a total of 9.55 million acres. There were 6,800 farms with sales exceeding $100,000. In 2014, Florida stood first in value of production for fresh market tomatoes ($437 million) and second in value of production for bell peppers ($164 million) [FDACS, 2014].

Tomato plant infested with bacterial spot disease
 Tomato plant infested with bacterial spot disease (apparent in the leaves) 
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University

Objective

The major goal of this program is to improve the crop productivity and profitability of small scale tomato and pepper producers in Florida. The program is expected to have broader implications for food security and sustainability. An interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary team of experts will focus on crop protection solutions to target crops based on IPM strategies including, cultural practices (crop rotations, resistant varieties, push-pull techniques), conservation of beneficial species, identification and diagnosis of pests and beneficial species, use of proper scouting and thresholds, and application of selective pesticides when needed.

Ms. Chinemenma Okoroji scouting the pepper weevil infestation
Ms. Chinemenma Okoroji scouting the pepper weevil infestation.
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.

Ms. Tashani Brown taking the samples of tomato flowers for thrips.
Ms. Tashani Brown taking the samples of tomato flowers for thrips.
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.


Sampling beneficial insect species on sweet alyssum, Lobularia maritima  using battery operated aspirator.
Sampling beneficial insect species on sweet alyssum, 
Lobularia maritima using battery operated aspirator. 
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.


Situation

Insect pests and diseases pose serious challenges for small scale tomato and pepper producers in Florida. This hampers the crop productivity and profitability of small scale producers. In addition, impacts of synthetic pesticides including: i) pesticide resistance, ii) pesticide residue, and iii) pest resurgence are frequently seen on these economical crops. Suitable IPM based solutions to manage certain insect pests are available for the target crops. However, controlling viral diseases and their vector insects need additional skills and training.

Important Pests


Silverleaf whitefly, western flower thrips, pepper weevil, tomato spotted wilt virus, tomato mottle virus, and tomato yellow leaf virus.

Pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii feeding on a pepper blossom.
Pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii feeding on a pepper blossom.  
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.

Pepper weevil adults exit holes in a pepper fruit
Pepper weevil adult exit holes in a pepper fruit
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.

A minute pirate bug, Orius insidiosus feeding on a thrips larva.
A minute pirate bug, Orius insidiosus feeding on a thrips larva.
Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.

A sliverleaf whitefly, Bemisia tabaci laying eggs and some nymphs in the background.

A silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia tabaci laying eggs and some nymphs in the background.   Source: Muhammad Haseeb, Florida A&M University.


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