Thursday, October 6, 2011

Stink Bugs: Chainsaw 128, Peach Trees 0

Stink bugs on my tomato
Stink bugs this year destroyed most of Frank Gouin’s peach crop, so Frank’s going to take his chainsaw to his 128 peach trees.

Is that an overreaction to the stink-bug invasion?

Adrian Higgins, the Washington Post’s “On Gardening” columnist, told Frank story in Thursday’s edition.  Frank is a horticulturist who has tended his orchard from Day One 20 years ago, when he started rootstock from seed and the next year grafted buds of his chosen varieties onto the rootstock seedlings.  He’s been a realistic peach grower who been spraying his crop every 10 to 14 days to manage all sorts of pests and diseases.

And then came the stink bugs.  In 2009 Frank lost about two percent of his crop.  Last year he lost 10 percent.  This year he lost 60 percent. 

Higgins wrote:  “Scientists are working hard to find a natural predator for the bug, but for Gouin, time has run out.  After a lifetime of dealing with and beating pests, he is calling it quits.  This winter, he will take a chainsaw to his 128 peach trees.”

And Frank isn’t alone.  Recently one of my gardening friends announced, “I’ve had it.  The stink bugs have destroyed everything.  I’m not going to plant a tomato next year.”  Others have told me that stink bugs have taken all the enjoyment and satisfaction out of vegetable gardening.

What to do, what to do, what to do?  Fruit and grain growers face huge, if not potentially catastrophic, challenges.  We consumers may see higher food prices and have new questions about pesticide residues in our food.

I haven’t surrendered.  My tomato yield improved significantly this year because I periodically used a commercially available garden spray that kept the stink bugs largely, but not totally, off my growing tomatoes.  I’m learning to share a little and don’t mind a few “pin pricks” or “dimples” or other evidence of stink-bug feeding on my tomatoes.

Please “take five” to read Adrian Higgins’ article about Frank Gouin and its short sidebar, “Beating the stink bugs.”  CLICK HERE.

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