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Scouting Northwest Florida Tomatoes

Blossom End Rot

Identification of pests affecting crops is the first part of designing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.  Scouting is an important part of any IPM program.  Once you identify problem pests, management decisions can be made such as changing cultural practices, using biological control methods or by applying pesticides.  By scouting and targeting problem pests, producers can reduce pesticide costs, reduce crop damage, and reduce pesticide resistance in pest populations.  Scouting is simple.  Here are 5 easy steps:
  1. Place yellow sticky traps (for whiteflies, leafminers, and aphids) and pheromone traps (for pepper weevils, tomato pinworms, tomato fruitworms and beet armyworms) around the field perimeter and check twice weekly.
  2. Map field into 2 acre grids.
  3. Select 6-10 plants in each grid twice weekly.
  4. Observe selected plants for flying insects as you approach.
  5. Inspect selected plants for caterpillars, true bugs and predators.

For North Florida, focus on scouting for Florida flower thrips, western flower thrips, stink bugs, spider mites, tomato pinworms, tomato fruitworms, leaffooted bugs, and whiteflies for the months of May and June.

You can also look for diseases and disorders in your tomatoes while you scout for insects.  Common diseases for May and June are Bacterial Wilt, Fusarium Wilt, Southern Blight and Tomato Spotted Wilt.  Disorders include Blossom End Rot, Catfacing and Sunscald.

For helping identifying insects, diseases and disorders, the Florida Tomato Scouting Guide can be found online at http://erec.ifas.ufl.edu/tomato-scouting-guide/.  The guide was developed by Dr. Ken Pernezny. The website contains identification keys for insects and diseases as well as good descriptions and color images of insects and diseases in tomatoes.

Search the leaves, fruit and stem for insects, diseases and disorders.

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/05/11/scouting-northwest-florida-tomatoes/