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Georgia's pecan producers need to scout for pests like the Asian ambrosia beetle

By for CAES News

Pecan season may be over, but Georgia’s producers should continue to scout for pests, like the Asian ambrosia beetle, that could impact future crops.

The first 2018 sighting of the beetle in Georgia came from a Brooks County orchard last week, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells, who wrote about it in his blog at blog.extension.uga.edu/pecan. Wells stresses that, with temperatures at or just above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in southern Georgia this week, ambrosia beetle activity will likely increase.

“Young, stressed trees, particularly those planted in poorly drained soil, on newly cleared sites, and those planted within the last week and undergoing transplant shock in this warm weather, are particularly at risk,” Wells said.

Pecan producers identify beetle activity by the toothpick-sized sawdust tubes the beetles leave sticking out of holes in pecan trees.

Producers can assemble traps to detect the beetle’s emergence in orchards, but these traps are for monitoring purposes only, Wells said. He lets growers know if and when they need to spray for the pest.

“Once the flight of the beetles starts, pyrethroids are the only method of defense, and this provides only short-term protection. Pyrethroids are short-lived in the environment, so producers do need to apply it again and possibly again,” Wells said. “Repeat applications are necessary every seven to 10 days or after rainfall.”

If activity is detected, pyrethroids should be sprayed at the trunk of the tree quickly to save the tree. The more times a tree is attacked by the beetles, the less likely that tree is to survive an attack.

He encourages pecan growers who had problems with Asian ambrosia beetles in previous years to closely monitor and consider spraying their orchards.

For more information about ambrosia beetles or for directions on beetle trap assembly, visit blog.extension.uga.edu/pecan/2015/01/managing-ambrosia-beetles.

Georgia is the top pecan-producing state in the U.S., with about 160,000 planted acres in 2016. According to the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, the 2016 farm gate value of pecans in Georgia was $355.8 million.

Wells will provide pecan production updates at county meetings across Georgia this winter. For a list of UGA Extension county pecan production meetings, visit blog.extension.uga.edu/pecan/2018/01/upcoming-2018-county-pecan-production-meetings.

Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.
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