Field evaluation of sunflower as a potential trap crop of Lygus pratensis in cotton fields
The mirid bug Lygus pratensis is an important pest of cotton, and is primarily managed through insecticide application. In this study, conducted in Xinjiang (China), we assessed the relative attractiveness of sunflower (Helianthus annuus) to L. pratensis adults in local cotton plots from 2015-2016 and quantified the associated contribution of inter-planted sunflower strips to suppress field-level L. pratensis populations from 2016-2017. Field-plot trials showed that among six combinations of
... combinations of two sunflower varieties (XKZ6 and SH363) and three planting dates (early-, middle- and late-planted), adult abundance of L. pratensis was highest on early-planted XKZ6 and attained 3.7-5.8 times higher levels than in neighboring cotton plots. In commercial cotton fields, the combined deployment of sunflower strips at field edges and the periodic application of insecticides directed to those strips was found to (1) reduce the mean abundance of L. pratensis population on cotton by 41.9-44.0%, (2) lower the rate of cotton leaf damage by 27.3-30.6% and boll damage by 44.8-46.0%, and (3) increase the number of mature bolls by 7.5%-8.0%. Our work emphasizes how sunflower can be an effective trap crop for L. pratensis and that the establishment of sunflower strips could contribute to its effective and environmentally-sound management in cotton crops.