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Xentari Pyganic Tank-mix1.jpg

Whether you are a conventional or an organic vegetable producer, an integrated pest management or IPM strategy for the modern farm includes a multi-faceted approach consisting of pest prevention and control strategies that aim at reducing pest populations below threshold levels. Proper pest identification and scouting are critical initial steps that form the basis of a proper IPM practice. Indiscriminate use of conventional or organic insecticides have resulted in many cases of insecticide resistance. Cultural control as well as pest exclusion systems suitable for small and large operations are prevention tactics, while insecticides should always be the last resort. Since many organic insecticides are low-persistence products designed to be environmentally friendly, there are additional benefits to evaluating the synergistic effects of rotations and tank-mixes for controlling insect pests. We encourage producers to do their own on-farm tests to gain experience in using new premix insecticides or rotations according to the insecticide label. Growers should keep good spray records and compare multi-year observations for developing a long-term IPM plan.


Organic insecticide tank-mixes:

  • Xentari (Bt-product, Valent USA) and Pyganic (natural pyrethrin, Valent USA) form a great combination for caterpillar control. Xentari (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. aizawai)-Pyganic tank-mix improves plants stands and quality of vegetables like tomatoes.
  • Based on past research on cabbages, Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki) can also be tank-mixed safely with pyrethrin for significant caterpillar control. Read the next section on the proper use of surfactants when dealing with waxy-leaf crops.
  • Pyganic and Neem 7-Way (Georgia Organic Solutions) tank-mix can also reduce small caterpillars. This tank-mix can significantly reduce damage to crops like tomatoes close to harvest in low pest-pressure regions.
  • Neem 7-Way and Xentari tank-mix can provide significant protection to tomato fruits without phytotoxic effects. Neem oil applications may also help with low populations of whiteflies and aphids (immature stages).  
  • Effectiveness of tank-mixes or insecticide rotations with Bts is enhanced when applications are made inside high tunnels (protection from rain) or in cooler weather (fall crop production).


Few pointers for vegetable growers:

  • Use surfactants on leafy vegetables with a wax layer to increase insecticide retention on or below the leaf surface where insects hide. Some organic surfactants include SKH Sticker, Ag Aide and EcoSpreader (Brandt, Inc.). Check insecticide label before mixing a spreader/sticker for compatibility issues; when in doubt, use the spray mixture in a small area before treating large fields. 
  • Benefits from tank-mixes and rotations may occur after 3 to 4 applications with weekly assessment of pest population levels (need-based applications). Tank-mixes should not be used for pest "prevention" as that may result in the target pest becoming resistant to two products simultaneously and wipe out the natural enemies leading to new pest problems.  
  • Use caution while spraying pyrethrin and spinosad products around beneficial insects. While these products are organic, they are toxic to pollinators. Avoid spraying when winds are high, or when pollinators are active.


Sources of organic insecticides:  Always check the insecticide label on the manufacturer's website before purchase. Many single or premix insecticides are available from online retailers that include Arbico Organics, Gardens Alive, Seven Springs Farm, Forestry Distributing, Amazon, and many others. Make sure to check the expiration date on the package and product quality before mixing. Consult product labels for primary tank-mixing instructions. Do not store insecticide mixes in spray tank to prevent corrosion. Wash application equipment thoroughly after use to prevent cross-contamination and accidental crop damage due to misapplication. When in doubt, call the manufacturer and/or the retailer for product details.   


Use the New Organic Vegetable IPM Toolkit Slide Chart

A revised Organic Vegetable IPM Toolkit is now available for natural and organic farmers. This rectangular slide chart has sustainable IPM recommendations for over 20 major vegetable insect pest species and is a good starting point for beginning or transitioning growers. For a free copy, please email, contact a commercial horticulture regional extension agent, or attend a beginning farmer workshop in Alabama. Funding for this IPM toolkit was provided by the USDA SARE, BFRD, and Specialty Crops Block Grant Programs. 


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Funding: The research and educational activities were funded by various USDA-NIFA and Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries grant programs. Educational activities are carried out in an unbiased manner to benefit all producers across the state and the southeast.  


Ayanava Majumdar,

Extension Entomologist and

SARE Program Coordinator, Auburn University


Gary Gray and Sam Boring,

Regional Extension Agents


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