[Market-farming] Bean Leaf Beetles

Todd Lister toddlister1 at gmail.com
Sun May 18 12:42:52 EDT 2014

Todd Lister
Veribest Farm
Vesta GA

On Sun, May 18, 2014 at 10:59 AM, Ken Bezilla <kenbez at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Alex McGregor emailed this to me directly since he's having trouble
> posting to the list, so I'm passing it on to the list -- thanks Alex!
> ...
> We have had trouble with them in the past. They decimate the leaves on our
> pole beans, killing the plants and the larvae chew on the maturing bush
> beans making them unmarketable.
> What we did was look at all the ways of controlling pests organically:
> Repelling, barriers, approved pesticides.
> We eliminated repelling (garlic oil, etc.) because it's a lot of work to
> mix & spray regularly, especially with overhead irrigation washing it off.
> We don't even consider approved pesticides (rotenone, etc.) because they
> are nerve agents and just as dangerous to breathe or get on skin, though
> break down rapidly in the environment. Also, they're broad spectrum
> killers- kill pollinators and predators, too. These populations recover
> much slower than the pests. And some pests survive and breed anyway.
> So, we went to barriers. We dropped pole beans and trialed different bush
> beans for flavor and production- this to please customers who insist on
> pole beans. (It takes some free samples to convince them that our bush
> beans are as good as pole beans.)
> The barrier we use is lightweight row cover. We plant bush beans in beds,
> cover bed right after planting and remove cover when first blooms appear.
> This is to let the pollinators in. (Some legumes are considered- self
> pollinating, but research has shown they produce more if pollinated. This
> also feeds and encourages pollinators and predators.) The mature bean
> beetles move in also and eat a bit of leaf and lay eggs.
> The adults do a bit of leaf damage, but Rodale Institute years ago
> experimented and found that up to 20% leaf area loss by pests increased the
> overall harvest.
> Since most bush beans only set one good set of beans, when they are ready
> we pull them out, load in carts and pick the beans off in the shade. About
> now the larvae have started hatching, so we shred the plants and put them
> in the middle of a hot compost pile.
> Hope this gives you some ideas.
> Alex McGregor
> Walden Farm
> Walden, TN
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