West Texas Orchards and Nasty Stink Bugs
This past week I made a trip out through some of West Texas on my way to Andrews, Texas to be a part of a Pecan Production Seminar held on Friday, July 10. This picture from Google Earth is of the St. Lawrence area which is south of Garden City in Glasscock County and shows both the new orchard plantings and the established orchards from this area. There are at least 14 growers in this area and interest by more to establish new pecan orchards. The trees are drip irrigated and the orchards are clean tilled to control weeds. Overall tree health was fantastic and their spray program seemed to be spot on! Nice to see pretty orchards in summer.
These two pictures are bad, very bad insects! The top picture is of a leaffooted bug and the second is of a stink bug and both cause the same damage. Both of these insects are in pecan orchards now to some degree and both can cause lots of problems. Early stink bug/leaffooted bug damage will just cause the nutlet to turn black and eventually fall off. Later, they cause damage to the shuck with corresponding damage to the kernel. The pecan kernel will have black spots and be bitter where a stink bug/leaffooted bug feeds. These insects will be noticeable first at the orchard margins before moving further into the orchards. They will suddenly be a problem as other food sources nearby disappear.
Cutting a hay field, or shredding weeds or even drought that causes weeds to decline will move them into your irrigated orchard. The only scouting program is to be in the orchard looking on a regular basis. If you start to see them in multiple locations, throughout the orchard, it's time to spray!
Since I am talking pecan insects I will share one more item. USDA and the Texas Pecan Board will be working on a joint project to develop a Pecan Weevil Pheromone. Our first job is to set up pecan weevil traps in known pecan weevil infested orchards and trap weevils. Dr. Charles Suh, USDA entomologist will collect the weevils and begin work to study the pheromone given off by the weevil so that it can be chemically made for traps. This program is almost identical to the successful cotton boll weevil trapping you see around cotton fields and will help us all know when pecan weevils are emerging in an area.