Agriculture Dept., Rutgers trying to stem stink bug population

TRENTON – The state Agriculture Department is working with Rutgers University to find ways to stymie the growing stink bug population to prevent them from invading crops.

At an Assembly budget hearing Thursday, Joe Zoltowski, chief of the department’s Plant Pest and Disease Control Bureau, said the department  is working with Rutgers, which is conducting research to see what pesticides would work to prevent stink bugs from threatening certain crops.

Based on their current finding, the state’s apple crop faces the biggest threat, although it could spread to other crops like tomatoes.

Zoltowski said the goal of the department’s and university’s work is to get the Environmental Protection Agency to allow the department to apply pesticides to certain target areas it currently isn’t authorized to do.

Budget Committee Chairman Lou Greenwald, (D-6), of Voorhees, recommended that something be done to preserve the state’s crops from the infamous stink bug, which first made its way into the northeastern region in the late 1990s.

“There is an economic component to this,” he said.

  Agriculture Dept., Rutgers trying to stem stink bug population