By Jaci Shreckengost
Researchers at the University of Florida’s West Florida Research and Education Center (WFREC) are working to solve pest management issues with field crops.
Silvana Paula-Moraes, an entomologist and professor at WFREC, said there are multiple projects, including grower surveys and pest trapping, to gain better knowledge of the pest issues Florida growers face. These projects will help researchers understand what types of research and management techniques will be most beneficial to growers. Paula-Moraes is focused on field crops, primarily working with cotton, peanuts, soybeans and corn.
One ongoing project is trapping moths by using mating pheromones. Paula-Moraes notes that many farmers may have seen these tools used in area farms. The farmers can use mating pheromones to trap male moths, which helps researchers take note of the occurrence and frequency of these pests in the field.
Data is taken from the traps every two weeks to help determine the species in the area and to allow regional Extension agents to collaborate. The team is also sampling experimental plots in Jay, Florida, and commercial fields to note the occurrences of pests.
To help improve the cotton industry, a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant was recently issued to Paula-Moreas to begin a three-year program to provide information through a publication to growers in the region. She said the goal of this grant is to provide photographs and information on pests in the Florida Panhandle that are affecting growers or that have the potential to affect growers.
In order to successfully provide growers with the information they need, she said feedback from growers is necessary. The team plans to obtain this feedback by creating a committee of farmers, which will inform the researchers of what information would be most beneficial to farmers. This information will then be given to the growers via the publication.
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