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Organic Practices To Counter Pests

A praying mantis - having changed color to match the tarp

It may be getting wiser with age, wanting to be a good steward of the land, and/or just trying to live a good, clean life that have led my husband and me to implement organic practices in the pecan orchard this year. We did not spray pesticides on the trees but rather used beneficial insects and nematodes to control the pests which harm and threaten our pecan trees. With about 25 trees harvested thus far this season, we have been able to gauge the health of our beneficial insect “army” made up of ladybugs, praying mantis, lizards, and the mighty wheel bugs. So far during the 2019 harvest, with the exception of one inchworm and one stinkbug, the only insects I’ve seen are the beneficial ones!

Another arrow in the quiver, we did put out a series of trichogramma wasps (T-wasp) in the spring. The T-wasp is a parasitic wasp that inserts its eggs inside the eggs of certain pests, killing them before they enter the plant-consuming larval stage. I have never seen the microscopic T-wasp but I trust they have been active participants in this war against army webworms, pecan nut casebearers, walnut caterpillars, and aphids along with the various other pests which threaten the crop.

We will be putting out another round of beneficial nematodes this autumn to tackle the various larvae/pupae of certain pests that overwinter in the ground. As we travel along this road, we will continue to learn what pests we can and cannot control with beneficial insects and weigh the crop losses/gains from not using pesticides. I will keep you posted on our organic practices as our operations move along.

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