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Like most other agricultural areas, the low desert valleys of the southwestern United States experience issues with crop pests. Although the arid environment is not suitable for some pests, others thrive in microclimates that develop in each individual irrigated field. These crop pests whether they are insects or pathogens must be managed in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Throughout the past 50 to 60 years there has been an over-reliance on synthetic pesticides to manage these issues in agriculture. This over-reliance has allowed crop pests to develop resistance to many of these control products. Due to the development of resistance there has been a push for the use of more integrated management strategies and for products that fit better into these management programs. Biopesticides are currently being developed that can work both as alternatives to synthetic pesticides or in rotation with them to provide an additional control tactic in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs.
The following document was written and submitted after participating in a three-month internship at Research Designed for Agriculture (RD4AG) in Yuma, Arizona. Under the supervision of Steve and Lee West my internship’s primary objective was to coordinate and conduct contracted agricultural industry research trials. A brief description of farming practices for the Yuma Valley area of southwestern Arizona is provided that highlights IPM with the use of biopesticides. The document has a special emphasis on the management of Western Flower Thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande)) as a pest in tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.). The document also provides details on powdery mildew (Sphaerotheca fuliginea (Schlechtend: Fr.) Pollacci, Leveillula taurica (Lév) G. Arnaud) as a disease on cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L.) and bell peppers in the low desert.
Advisor: Gary L. Hein