Suppression of Western Flower Thrips by Overhead Sprinkler Irrigation in Romaine Lettuce
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AbstractA two year study was conducted from 2000-2002 to evaluate the use of overhead sprinkler irrigation for suppressing thrips populations in romaine lettuce. Specifically we looked at how the duration and frequency of sprinkler irrigation use reduced adult and larval populations following various irrigation applications employed specifically for thrips suppression. We also evaluated combinations of insecticide spray regimes, used in association with sprinkler irrigation runs, for suppressing thrips populations in both fall and spring seasons. The results of the study demonstrated that overhead sprinkler irrigation has the ability to suppress thrips populations in romaine lettuce. At best, we experienced about 50% population reduction using only sprinkler irrigation compared with the untreated control during these trials. Sprinkler ruins of durations of > 4 hrs and more than 4 cm of water appeared to provide the minimal necessary for suppression. Furthermore, sprinkle runs of 2 or 3 times weekly appeared to provide the most consistent suppression. In contrast, insecticide sprays consistently provided >80% suppression and provided higher yielding and better quality lettuce than sprinklers. The use of sprinkler irrigation, in addition to insecticide sprays did not significantly improve thrips suppression or yields. However, sprinkler irrigation is being used season long in some romaine fields and in organic production and should be of benefit for thrips suppression, particularly in organic systems where effective insecticide alternatives are not currently available.