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Trap Cropping

Discussion in 'Diseases & Pests' started by ducks4you, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. Dec 12, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    I was reading/posting on
    https://www.theeasygarden.com/threads/2019-seed-catalogs.22447/page-4#post-340625
    and posted about High Mowing Seeds
    https://www.highmowingseeds.com/
    So...I am searching their site for squash seeds and I come upon Blue Hubbard Squash. I grew it back in 2000 and it was SO SWEET I was interested in growing it again. So I click on the link to find out more and I get this:

    Baby Blue Hubbard Squash

    Days to Maturity: 95 days


    SKU2925-A

    Highly marketable scaled-down blue hubbard with smooth gray skin and sweet flesh.


    Fruits are of consistent quality and teardrop shaped, with sweeter flesh than the standard Blue Hubbard. Our strain has been improved for uniformity on our seed farm. Excellent trap crop for cucumber beetles, who prefer Blue Hubbard above all.


    Since I am on vacation I had time to research. I had NEVER HEARD of trap cropping before, but I understand that it isn't new, just new applications are being used.
    Does anybody else use trap cropping?
     
  2. Dec 12, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    I don't altho I have some vague notions.

    So, think of this as starting with pre-kindergarten ...

    :) I can't imagine that it is a good idea unless you kill the pests on the trap crop. Otherwise, those plants would just feed a pest population. Maybe, making things worse for surrounding plants &/or, the following year.

    Steve
    edited to add: and Hubbard squash is delicious and it would be a shame if they are sacrificial offerings to bugs
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
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  3. Dec 12, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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  4. Dec 12, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    "Trap crops are those crops which are planted along with the main cash crop to protect it from a specific pest or several pests by attracting them for feeding, breeding and survival. These crops are generally planted along the main crop as intercropping, as border or in strips. Insect management practices like insecticide spraying are confined to these crops."

    "A common concern with trap crops is that they could just act as breeding grounds for the pest which will then move on to the main crops. This can happen but several factors usually prevent things getting out of hand:
    • When pests increase so do their predators. The pests may be building up on the trap crop but as long as you have built in some companion plants there will usually be a hungry population of beneficial insects to start eating them. Often this controls the pests sufficiently and no further action is necessary.
    • When a trap crop becomes overrun with a pest you can remove it or thin it out. The pests are then disposed of with the plant on the compost heap or somewhere further away from the garden.
    • Alternatively choosing a trap crop with a long growing season or making more than one sowing of the trap crop can keep the pests at bay until the main harvest is complete."
     
  5. Dec 12, 2018
    Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Garden Master

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    I read most of those, not all. First question is do you actually have the pest you are trying to control in sufficient numbers you need to control them like those cucumber beetles? Is it really a problem? Sounds like it might be for you or you wouldn't be this interested.

    Are you going to plant more of the trap crop than the crop you are trying to protect? Do you need to keep it weeded? Do you have the space? I agree with Steve, if you provide a great food source and allow them to breed you may be doing more harm for next year or later in the season. I think the general idea has merit, but how does the execution work?

    In Arkansas flea beetles were hugely attracted to eggplant. I'd have to spray the eggplant two or maybe three times a year to keep them alive, let alone produce anything. But I didn't have a bad flea beetle problem on anything else, at least not a bad one, as long as those eggplant were alive. The squash bug population would explode on my summer squash no matter what I did. I'd be lucky to get a half dozen meals off of them. When they killed them I'd have an army of squash bugs start looking for my winter squash.
     
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  6. Dec 12, 2018
    Beekissed

    Beekissed Garden Master

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    Yep, I've done it before and was doing it just this past year, as was discussed in the green bean thread. Used Fortex beans as a trap crop and it was quite successful in keeping the Jap beetles from my main crop of beans. These also were planted along the fenceline and not trellised past the fence so they would hang down where the chickens could get some JB protein, so that was a win/win. Will be doing that one again.

    I also will often use "sacrifice" squash~read volunteers~to let the vine borers do their thing, then just remove the plant when it's evident that the borers have infested the vine. Meanwhile, keeping my more valued squash under wraps until that season has passed.

    I planted spuds under my apple tree saplings so the Jap beetles would be lured downward...in range of the chickens...and not upward to my tender apple leaves. The jury is still out on how effective that's been, but I did note less JBs last year than previous years, though still more than I'd like to see around.

    This past year I also broke up my vine crops, planting them alternating with one another so that the pest bugs wouldn't have a whole row or sheet of plant on which to feed and breed. So beans were planted alternating with tomatoes and those were also alternated with cukes. I found it really did work to decrease the overall damage from pest bugs and horn worms when they couldn't travel as easily from plant to plant of their chosen food.
     
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  7. Dec 12, 2018
    digitS'

    digitS' Garden Master

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    I really like the idea of alternating plants. It's a gardening advantage the farmer has more difficulty practicing. This perimeter idea goes a little that way.

    Commercial ag, there is one problem with pests. Many of us have acres of farmland near our gardens. Spittlebugs love alfalfa and they are a real problem in my garden. Those things are so mobile as adults (leafhoppers) that it is usually easier to recognize their damage than to see what the heck is jumping around!! Spray and do they just move back into the alfalfa?

    Spittlebugs are also on sweet clover weeds. Nightshade weeds are loved by potato beetles more than they care about potatoes ... well, certainly tomatoes. These are just a couple of the common weeds around farm fields and along roadways here. I wish they weren't.

    I looked at the U Connecticut article. Perimeter Trap Cropping sound like it would work well in some situations and not others. That it could be both good to do and a mistake, albeit maybe a difficult to recognize one.

    Reducing pest numbers and the diseases they spread on the garden crops, preserving beneficial natural enemies - great. Better than great! But, adding extra controls = extra time and money.

    It is a little weird that they would mention both pest attractants and repellants ... which one? Both? Better know what we are doing so UConn and others are doing research on this, I hope.

    "The perimeter orientation of the trap crop and defenses improves efficacy because the barrier intercepts the pest migration regardless of the direction of attack." Yes, and more diversity in agricultural areas would really help, too. These perimeter ideas are a step in that direction.

    Steve
     
  8. Dec 12, 2018
    flowerbug

    flowerbug Garden Addicted

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    i finally got fed up with the Japanese Beetles infesting the wild grape vines and took the vines out where many thousands of JB's would be feeding. i'm expecting in the next several years to see a decline in the JB population feasting upon my bean plants. in the mean time i'm going to be planting more of a certain kind of bean which the JBs really go after and then i can use that as my first check in the morning to pick them off before they can get going and spread to other plants.

    with the wild grape vines what would normally happen is that the JBs would start on them and i could pick some of them off, but because the vines were along the big ditch i couldn't get down that slope or on the other side of the fence to pick them all off. and then after a month the JBs would start appearing on any other plants they would eat around the gardens.

    as for squash plants i'm just going to keep doing what has mostly been working so far, that is growing types that seem resistant enough to at least survive to give a crop and then also rotate when the insect pressure gets to be too much even for those.

    next year, we'll see how it goes. :)
     
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  9. Dec 13, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    I was very intrigued by this article:
    https://ipm.missouri.edu/MEG/2017/3/Trap_cropping/
    Blue Hubbard squash can also be grown in large pots. Some farmers have implemented trap cropping outside high tunnels to protect cucumbers by placing potted Blue Hubbard plants treated with a systemic insecticide early in the season, with good results. If temperatures at night are expecting to drop potentially injuring the Blue Hubbard squash seedlings, then pots can be moved indoors.

    Removing / killing insect pests congregating on trap crop plants
    Insect pests (e.g., squash bugs) congregating on trap crop plants need to be eliminated. Otherwise, they are likely to reproduce on those plants, and then they can move to the cash crop. Not killing the squash vine borer means that the trap crop plants will succumb. Therefore, for both squash bug and squash vine borer control insecticides applied to the Blue Hubbard squash are recommended. Whether using organic or synthetic insecticides, make sure to apply them thoroughly, especially near the base of trap crop plants...
    Some producers have opted for using small amounts of systemic insecticides (examples of trade names: Admire Pro®, Alias 2F®) applied to the trap crop plants only. When applied to the roots, systemic insecticides are absorbed by plant tissue, producing plants that will be toxic to insects that feed on them.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2018
    ducks4you

    ducks4you Garden Master

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    I haven't had a terrible problem with Japanese beetles. I see them on my roses and some on my grapes, but they don't decimate either of them.
    MY big problem has been squash vine borers and squash bugs. When I gardened in what now is my horse's training area, I had 40+ cucumbers, 12 Hubbard Squash, a handful of Acorn Squash, a bunch of non descript pumpkins and, of course, tomatoes. I was throwing too old cucumbers over the fence to my horses bc I had SO MANY. I saw NO squash vine borers and NO squash bugs.
    I have bought many plants over the years and can only assume that I brought them to my property, but I haven't been able to harvest much of anything squash-wise in 5 years, even though I have a lot of space and rotate my crops every years.
    I have even tried planting so that they fruit in August after the bugs are pretty much gone although that is never true for the squash bugs, and then it gets to late to get much of a harvest.
    THIS is the ONLY possible way for me to try to get a good squash harvest.
    I would really like to be eating zucchini, grow big pumpkins, grow pickling cucumbers and maybe some acorn squash. IL IS the pumpkin capital of the US, but I get pretty much nuthin'.
    If I read the articles correctly, Yes, you sacrifice a crop for another crop, but if you use insecticide, even with insecticidal soap you can kill the bugs before they find your crop.
    The articles also suggest that you flood the area with companion plants. Seems like nasturtiums are good with many vegetables and I have had great success growing them. Also oregano is recommended. I have an herb bed that has become an oregano bed, so transplanting from that should be pretty easy.
    Further the new idea is that you form a perimeter with the sacrificial vegetable, treat every one of them and monitor them for bugs, especially during the bug's season. In that way no matter what direction the bug flies or crawls in from it reaches the trap crop First.
    I thought that it was fascinating that one article suggested leaving weeds in your bed, and I have winessed weeds chewed up while my crop was left alone. Last year I left a number of weeds amongst my okra and most of the okra leaves were perfect.
    The other recommendation is to not plant your vegetables in a "desert." You fill in with herbs and flowers so that the vegetables grow with the fillers in a mass, like you would see in a container planting. This is also supposed to help with watering.
    Insect pests are mostly introduced, but they fly in (or hatch and crawl out), feed and breed and move on. You don't have to fight them from the last to first frost.
    I have considered removing my garden soil and replacing it with what was removed from my horse shelter last October, and till that in. I really don't mind dealing with old weed seeds that want to sprout.
    Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated!
     
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