May 24, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman
OWENSBORO, Ky.

Vegetable production in Daviess County has grown substantially in recent years and as a result the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is assisting growers in learning to use integrated pest management techniques.

Since 1994 on an every other year basis, the UK Extension Service's Daviess County office has been conducting a vegetable IPM program to assist in scouting for pests but more importantly as an educational tool to teach growers what they need to be looking for in their fields, said Annette Meyer, Daviess County Extension agent for horticulture.

"It's a service and a teaching tool," she said. "It's not our goal to be a scouting service but a means of educating growers on ways to manage insects."

This year, more than 2,000 acres of vegetables, primarily sweet corn will be grown in and around Daviess County. Much of the produce is being grown through the West Kentucky Growers Cooperative.

The IPM project is working with at least 10 growers who are producing sweet corn, peppers, squash and broccoli. Pheromone traps are used to monitor insect activity.

One of the participants in the program is Daviess County farmer Scott Kuegel who is growing zucchini and bell peppers.

"I need all the help I can get," he said. "I'm trying to learn what I need to be looking for as much as anything."

The program is funded through a competitive grant from the Kentucky IPM program. The money is used to hire a scout, pay for supplies and brochures and other supplies.

Since the program began in 1994, the results have generally found a 25 percent reduction in insecticide usage, she said. But that is not always the case, the purpose of the program is to train farmers to use pest controls at optimum time.

"Our goal is for them to understand the biology of the insect and to know when to apply a product for the most effective control," Meyer said. "If you don't know what's out there and when it's out there, you don't know how to control it."

Producers who have been involved in the program are paying more attention to what's in their fields and being a little more conscientious, she said.

It is harder to gauge what impact the program has had on produce quality, because there is little feedback in that area, Meyer said. However, one farmer estimated that using the IPM program in his squash improved the quality of his product so that it resulted in an 18 percent increase in production. With the price that year at $28 per bushel, the 18 percent increase to his total production had a value of $2,016.

Contact: 

Annette Meyer, (270) 685-8480