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A New, Low-Toxicity Slug Control Material for Strawberries 2001

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Project Leader: Brian Caldwell, Farm Educator, Northeast Organic Farming Association, New York Chapter

Cooperator: Marvin Pritts, Horticulture Department, Cornell University

Type of Grant: Pheromones; biorationals; microbials; conventional pesticides

Project Location: Throughout the northeast

Abstract: "Sluggo" is a new low-toxicity slug control product formulated with the active ingredient ferric phosphate and a proprietary bait. Strawberry slug damage was measured in 2000 to compare treatments of Sluggo and the standard material, "Deadline Mini Pellets" (active ingredient, metaldehyde, plus bait) to untreated control plots. Metaldehyde is a fairly toxic material. If ferric phosphate bait can be shown to provide adequate control of slug damage, growers could use it with confidence and reduce environmental and consumer hazards in comparison with current practice. In particular, growers are concerned that use of metaldehyde in a U-pick situation where young children are present can present a hazard. Yet, if slug damage is heavy, they have had to make the choice between accepting the damage or using the potentially hazardous metaldehyde. Having a viable low-toxicity option would be welcome.

Research plots were laid out at two U-pick strawberry farm and at the Cornell Orchards. After rainy weather induced slug damage in the crop, a consistent rend was found. Plots treated with Sluggo showed reductions of about 50% in slug damage compared to the control, statistically significant at two of three locations. Damage in the metaldehyde-treated plots was intermediate.