A royal treat for fruit lovers, Queen pineapple is a smaller but sweeter pineapple in the Philippines that is enjoying growing local and international demand. Despite being more resistant to pests compared with the common pineapple varieties, some insect pests and diseases still pose threat to its quality and high yield potential.
To address this concern, the Visayas State University (VSU) identified potential biological control (biocontrol) agents that could be used in developing sustainable, safe, and environment-friendly control strategies for Queen pineapple insect pests.
Biocontrol agents are organisms used in controlling pests through predation (i.e., organism preying on the pest), parasitism (i.e., an organism causing harm on its host organism), or other natural mechanisms.
The VSU initiative was done through the project, “Development of Site-Specific Sustainable Pest Management of Queen Pineapple under Different Cropping Schemes in Leyte and Camarines Norte,” funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD). The project identified the major insect pests and diseases and assessed the presence and abundance of natural enemies and disease antagonists of Queen pineapple in Leyte.
Major Insect Pests and Diseases of Queen pineapple
Pink Pineapple Mealybug (PPMB) is a major insect pest of Queen pineapple in Leyte. It infests the Queen pineapple roots, leaves, and fruits in the project sites. According to VSU, a large number of PPMB in Queen pineapple plants may increase their risk to wilt disease that could lead to death or reduced fruit quality and yield.
Major diseases infecting Queen pineapple, on the other hand, include anthracnose and heart rot.
Anthracnose was the most prevalent disease in all project sites. According to VSU, the disease causes dark brown to black spots with sunken appearance on the Queen pineapple plants. In severe cases, dried and wilted looking leaves are observed.
Potential Biological Control Strategies
The project identified predatory earwig insect, Hambletonia pseudococcina parasitoid, and insect-harming fungi as potential biocontrol agents for PPMB.
Predatory earwigs consume up to 100 PPMB crawlers in a day. It could also parasitize up to eight PPMB adults. On the other hand, the insect-harming fungi, Beauveria sp., Lecanicillium lecanii, and Metarhizium anisopliae can potentially control PPMB by infecting and eventually killing it.
Botanical extracts are also recommended by the project team as a cleaner alternative to chemicals in controlling Queen pineapple pests.
On heart rot disease, Trichoderma sp. and Penicillium sp. fungi were identified to be the most effective against fungi causing heart rot disease.
Safer and Better Future for Queen pineapple Production
Queen pineapple is a tropical fruit with increasing foreign market demand. Along with banana and other crops, it is said to contribute to ecological resilience in agriculture.
Preferably consumed raw, Queen pineapple can be made safer for both farmers and consumers with the use of chemical-free pest and disease management strategies.
VSU hopes for the use of the project results in developing effective, sustainable, and safe control measures for Queen pineapple.