Collards are a cool-season crop that flourishes in early spring and late fall. Collards are a member of the cabbage family of greens and are simple to grow in most areas of the country. They can fall prey to certain pests, which can damage your crop. Monitor your collards carefully for early signs of damage and take action as soon as possible to protect your greens.
Aphids are a common pest of collards. They attack the plants by piercing the soft tissue and sucking the water and nutrients from them. Aphids are tiny pests that can be green, yellow, red, black or brown. They leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew that can cause sooty black mold to grow on the foliage of the collard plants. Aphids cause curling and distortion of leaves and can stunt plant growth. Control these tiny pests by rinsing the leaves with running water to get rid of the honeydew and to wash the insects from the plants. Introduce parasitic wasps and ladybugs into your collard patch because they feed on aphids and can help control an infestation.
The most common caterpillars that feed on collards include the cabbage looper and diamondback moth worms. Caterpillars cause damage to collard crops by chewing ragged holes in the leaves. They also leave behind feces, which contaminates the crop. Insect and pheromone traps can help control caterpillars by trapping them before they cause damage. Handpicking the caterpillars from the collard plants can also be effective. Natural predators, such as the trichogramma wasp, are another control method. Insecticides are moderately useful because certain caterpillars have an increased resistance to the chemicals. Bacillus thuringiensis-based insecticides are the most effective if sprays are used.
Corn earworms, beet armyworms and cross-striped cabbageworms can cause extensive damage to collard plants. These pests lay their eggs on the foliage of the plants and the hatched pests feed on the underside of the leaves, causing ragged holes. Early detection is necessary to control an infestation. Handpicking the worms and introducing predatory insects can be effective in controlling worm infestations. Pull weeds as soon as possible because certain types attract these worms to the garden. Insecticides are also useful in controlling worm populations.
Seedcorn maggots are a problem during cool weather and in soils that contain a large amount of organic matter. They feed on newly emerging leaves. Soil insecticide can destroy the maggots before they begin feeding on the foliage. Cabbage maggots cause similar damage and usually require insecticide to control. Striped flea beetles and harlequin bugs are additional pests of collards. Good weed control can limit their populations but repeated applications of insecticides are often necessary to get rid of them.
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