Insecticides are generally used on close to 100% of tomatoes grown in eastern states to prevent damage from a large number of species that would feed directly on the tomatoes- significantly lowering their value. A study of tomatoes in Virginia revealed that uncontrolled insects lowered marketable yield by 33%. Insecticide cost ($230/A) prevented losses of from $3000-$7000/A.
“Insect pest management is critical to successful tomato production in the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Important pests each year often include the tomato fruitworm (= corn earworm), thrips, stink bugs, aphids, and spider mites. Occasional pests also include armyworms, Colorado potato beetle, hornworms, cabbage looper, and leafminers. To control this complex of pests, insecticide usage is often intense on commercial farms. For instance, in Virginia, tomato growers make an average of 7 to 10 pesticide applications per crop.
Although IPM and biological control programs have been demonstrated, insecticides continue to be the chief management tool by which damaging insect pests can be controlled immediately and economically for conventional tomato producers. Because strict quality standards for produce coupled with high production costs are unlikely to change significantly, current and future tomato pest management strategies are likely to include an insecticide component.”
Author: Thomas P. Kuhar
Affiliation: Associate Professor – Vegetable Entomology, Virginia Tech
Title: Update on insect pest management for tomatoes
Source: 2011 Proceedings 56th New Jersey Annual Vegetable Meeting. January 11-13, 2011. Available at: http://njveg.rutgers.edu/assets/pdfs/2011-56th-NJ-Annual-Vegetable-Meeting-Proceedings.pdf