CTAHR NEWS

The Power of Pruning

  • 6 March 2019
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 2317
  • 0 Comments
The Power of Pruning

Now macadamia growers have a new weapon against an invasive pest, the macadamia felted coccid. Alyssa Cho (TPSS) and her collaborators showed that pruning the canopy of the trees reduced populations of the insect by half. The pruning didn’t affect the yields, and it improved the quality of the nuts. Pruning also increased the amount of beneficial insects that prey on the pest by 60–70 percent, which was probably because the more open canopy allowed greater plant diversity and more plants to grow below and among the macadamia trees, offering a better habitat and more nectar and pollen sources for these beneficial insects.

Pruning led to a greater abundance of natural enemies of the felted coccid: predatory beetles were up to 62% more abundant, while Encarsia lounsburyi, a wasp that parasitizes the coccid, was up to 73% more abundant.

Alyssa was the PI on the project, but she collaborated with Mark Wright (PEPS) and Extension agent Andrea Kawabata, with support from Rosemary Gutierrez and Javier Mollinedo, among others. The macadamia felted coccid (Eriococcus ironsidei Williams) causes severe damage and yield losses in macadamia nut trees, and the group’s research findings are important because they give growers a mechanical management option that reduces their reliance on the few available insecticidal options. The research is documented in the team’s publication in the journal Crop Protection and highlighted in Fresh from the Field, the national newsletter of USDA-NIFA (scroll down).

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