Courtesy University of CaliforniaIf left uncontrolled, cabbage root maggots can cause up to 90 percent damage to cole crops.The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has awarded grants to two University of California researchers to find lower-risk methods to control pests in specialty crops.
Shimat Joseph received a $302,542 grant to study root maggots in cole crops and how to control them yet reduce associated pesticide risks.
Lynn Epstein, UC Davis plant pathology professor, received a $153,289 grant to study methyl bromide alternatives for strawberry nursery fumigation.
Root maggots can devastate cole crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower, as they tunnel into the plants' roots to feed, according to a news release.
Growers typically use a soil-applied organophosphate insecticide, such as chlorpyrifos or diazinon, to control the pest.
Joseph, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Monterey County, says he hopes to find more sustainable pest control methods.
Among the tactics may be multicropping, planting less-susceptible cultivars, changing cultural practices and using lower-risk pesticides.
Joseph will evaluate the susceptibility of broccoli when planted next to other crops, sucha s turnips, lettuce, cauliflower or cabbage, to determine how neighboring crops influence broccoli's attractiveness to cabbage maggots.
He also plans to screen broccoli and cauliflower cultivars for susceptibility.
Epstein plans to gauge the effectiveness of Pic-Clor 60 (a Telone/chloropicrin blend) and two non-chemical control methods.
They are anaerobic soil disinfestation using a combination of solarization and flooding and crop rotation with wheat and peas with compost.