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Keywords:

  • mechanical control;
  • organic pest management;
  • small-farm IPM

Abstract

Two studies were conducted to test the feasibility and efficacy of using physical barriers (Maggot Barrier® nylon mesh bags) for control of three internal pests of tree fruit (codling moth (Cydia pomonella L.), apple maggot (Rhagoletis pomonella (Walsh)) and peach twig borer (Anarsia lineatella Zeller)) and three groups of external direct pests (stink bugs (Pentatomidae), plant bugs (Miridae) and birds). Two types of Maggot Barrier® were tested (regular and heavy duty), and two methods of securing the bags: knotting the bag on itself (‘self-ties’) and using plastic-coated wire ‘twist-ties’. Bags were applied to eight cultivars of both apples and peaches, selected to give a range of maturity dates. Apples were bagged when fruit was approximately 27 mm in diameter, and peaches when the fruit was approximately 36 mm in diameter. Unbagged fruits served as controls. On apples, bagging had no effect on damage due to birds, stink bugs or apple maggot (which was present only in very low numbers), but reduced codling moth damage by 20–25% compared with unbagged controls; there were no significant differences due to bag type or tie type. In apples, a significantly higher proportion of the heavy duty bags were reusable after harvest, but on peaches, which were bagged for a shorter time, there was no difference between bag types in this respect. Bagging significantly reduced the percentage of peach fruits damaged by twig borer, birds and stink bugs, but increased the percentage of fruit with skin marks; there were no significant differences between bag or tie types. In peaches, there were significant effects on the time taken to apply bags due to both tying method and differences between individual operators. Cultivar affected pest-related damage in both fruit types, underlining the importance of appropriate cultivar choice in pest management, particularly for organic growers and home gardeners.