Effect of Breathable Row Covers and Ground Cover on Pest Insect Levels and Cucurbit Yield

Kacie J. Athey, Julie A. Peterson, Jamin Dreyer, James D. Harwood, Mark A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Organic control measures in muskmelon and squash production are part of an integrated pest management approach that can include using floating row covers, generalist predators, and ground cover. These are used in Kentucky, allowing for a reduction in insecticide use and diminished virus incidence while increasing yield. Commonly used row covers are made from spunbonded fabric that retains heat and must be removed at anthesis and kept off until the end of the season. Thus, a new farming regime containing breathable mesh covers which can be replaced after anthesis was tested for longer season insect exclusion across two growing seasons. Additionally, ground cover treatments, consisting of mulch or bare ground were tested for their effect on pest insect abundance and fruit yield. Pest insect numbers were usually lower in plots with mesh row covers and in some cases, mulch ground cover also contributed to lower pest numbers. A stronger impact on pest numbers was observed in melon than squash. Melon yield was always significantly higher in plots with mesh row covers and mulch ground cover. This trend was not observed with squash in 2014 but was true in 2015. In 2015, most plants under the fabric row covers died because of high temperatures immediately after transplanting highlighting the need for breathable mesh row covers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of economic entomology
Volume115
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cultural control
  • Insect exclusion
  • Organic production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science

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