Sustainable Strategies Support Cut Flower Production

Gerbera daisies are the third preferred cut flower in the world, and demand is increasing in the United States. The lack of cost-effective options to control the complex of primary and secondary pests impedes development of a sustainable production system. The driving factor in gerbera production is insecticide resistant leafminers. Leafminers are also pests of numerous other greenhouse ornamental and vegetable crops. They can be controlled with parasitic wasps. This has been effective in areas only where disruptive use of chemical controls has been avoided.

Insecticides and miticides were identified that were compatible with biological controls. This allowed control of the primary pest in this system (leafminer) using its natural enemies and the use of less disruptive options from among the chemicals to control the secondary pests. The benefits from such a strategy are multifold. First, it reduced the pesticide footprints on the premises and in the environment. It enhanced safety to the workers and producers. It also provided better management of the pest leading to a better crop. Finally, it produced a sustainable production system.

A range in susceptibility among 60 cultivars was observed, suggesting that early and heavily infested plants could serve as early indicator plants, while those that were initially less preferred may provide some benefit in an IPM program.

A traditional chemically-based control regime was compared with a biologically-based control program. The biologically-based control program reduced overall leafminer populations and provided insect control at a lower cost than the chemically-based regime.

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