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Economics of Pest-Control Systems on Tomatoes Compared

A study from Mississippi State University, published in HortTechnology, evaluated the impact insect pest management strategies have on the economic return of small-scale tomato production. Researchers compared a calendar spray schedule, conventional pesticide management based on action thresholds, and management based on action thresholds using organic controls. Action thresholds are levels of pest density that result in loss of crop quantity or quality. In this study, the greatest total and marketable yields were obtained for use of conventional pesticides according to action thresholds. Production costs for the organic threshold-based approach proved greater due to an increased number of insecticide applications required. However, the premium received for organic tomatoes offset this cost. Economic return for both conventional and organic threshold-based insect pest management was greater than for the conventional calendar method.