Date of Award

6-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Department

Biology

Abstract

Striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittata F.) are a serious pest of cucurbits, particularly on organic farms. These pests are the vector and overwintering host for bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila), which kills plants and can render cucumbers, melons and other produce unmarketable. During field research in 2009, row covers, compost tea and reflective mulch were compared on a commercial organic farm in Ottawa County, Michigan. I collected data on plant growth, incidence of bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila), marketable and unmarketable yields and profits. I found that row covers led to significant increases in plant growth, significant increases in marketable yield during the second harvest week (21-24 July 2009) and an increase in profits of $98.09 per 30.5 m (100 ft.) row as compared to controls. This would translate to 9062 more cucumbers per acre. Trends in the data also suggest that compost tea decreased bacterial wilt and the number of unmarketable cucumbers, but profits decreased due to high labor and supply costs. Reflective mulch reduced disease more than any other treatment, but lowered profits. Emergence of second-generation adult beetles coincided closely with recently-developed predictions of degree day development in this species. We recommend row covers to organic farmers as a first line of defense for striped iv 6 cucumber beetles, but also for increased yields and profits. This study also offers field data to confirm estimates of degree day development in striped cucumber beetles.

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