Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Tips for Thrips: Integrated Pest Management in the DR

Source: Western FarmPress
Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic - Western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) are one of the most detrimental pests for agricultural production in the developing world.  Their impact is particular profound in impoverished communities where integrated pest management (IPM) practices and advance production strategies are neither as prevalent nor comprehensive. In Caribbean nations like the Dominican Republic (DR), these types of thrips have cause devastating crop losses, particularly to vegatable farmers cultivating inside greenhouses.

To address the impact that thrips have on crop production and producer wellbeing, Partners of the Americas’ identified Dr. Vonny Barlow, a U.S integrated pest management specialist, to help train Dominican farmers on the importance of sound IPM and greenhouse production methods.  During his two week field assignment, Dr. Barlow provided technical assistance to farmers from the Jarabacoa Greenhouse Cluster. Established in 2002, the cluster is comprised of over 106 member farmers who use greenhouses in the town of Jarabacoa to produce vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant for local consumption and for export. In Jarabacoa, the environment favors the implementation of crops in greenhouses. As a result, a group of producers decided to form a cluster in order to develop potential areas of synergy and collaboration, and built several greenhouses in the process.

Thanks to the expertise of Dr. Barlow, local farmers in Jarabacoa were able to learn new ways to control and eradicate western flower thrips. Through trainings on biological, cultural, and physical controls, farmers were able to adapt and implement a sound IPM plan. As part of his assignments, Dr. Barlow also generated a series of practical recommendation to deal with these types of pest in greenhouse enviroments. A summary of these suggestions is included below:

Dr. Barlow’s Tips for Thrips
1. Exclusion screening
·         Exclude thrips from the production facility through a scheduled management
·         All infected plant material and weeds in surrounding landscape should be removed
·         Clear a radius of 3.5 meters around important crops & buildings
2. Sticky traps
·         Place traps in a staggered pattern around entrances to homes or greenhouses
·         Check Traps once per week
3. Regular sampling
·         Keep records of trap counts to determine what stage the population is in, a huge burst of adults should cause more alertness
4.  Rotation
·         Rotate IRAC class every 2 to 3 weeks to fight different generations with different resistances
·         Chemical insecticides should not be overused, and cycle their usage with insect growth regulators
·         There’s a risk for insecticide resistance for Western Flower Thrips  since they have short lifespans and high offspring
5. Spray
·         Spray equipment with good coverage is the best for thrips
·         Use surfactants
·         Large droplet size
·         Directed sprays
6. Protective equipment
·         Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential for applying pesticides
·         Pesticides is dangerous and can lead to serious results
7. Don’t mix your medicine
·         Do not mix two insecticides for long-term solutions, this may have short term solutions but it paves the way for resistances

Interested in learning more about IPM in the developing world? Here are some useful resources:

v  Using Dr. Barlow's tips, Dominican farmers in Jarabacoa will be more equipped to defend against the thrips. Here's a link to a lecture he gave on pest control:

v  Other pests, like the Armyworm swarm, have become a serious problem, especially in central African countries like Malawi, Zambia, and Namibia. Read more about them here:

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