Pest Damage to Pecan is Affected by Irrigation, Nitrogen Application, and Fruit Load

in HortScience

Orchard trees of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] were subjected to combinations of cultural practices inducing differential physiological states so as to assess the potential for culture-related impact on damage to trees by key arthropod pests. Leaf N concentration, leaf water status, and crop load all affected foliar damage by black pecan aphids [BPA; Melanocallis caryaefoliae (Davis)] and pecan leaf scorch mite [PLSM; Eotetranychus hicoriae (McGregor)], as well as second-flush shoot growth. Damage to first-flush foliage in the late season by BPA generally diminished as leaf water status and leaf N concentration increased, but intensified with a reduction in crop load. Conversely, foliage damage by PLSM increased with elevated leaf water status and N concentration, but was unaffected by crop load. First- and second-order interactions for all combinations of cultural treatments conferring differential physiological states affected damage by pests and induction of second-flush shoot growth. Arthropod-induced defoliation on trees receiving highly favorable cultural practices—those producing high leaf N, high leaf water availability, and low crop load—was greater than on trees receiving minimal or lesser cultural inputs. Thus, cultural practices influencing leaf water status, N status, or crop load potentially act and interact to produce both desirable and undesirable side-effects on damage incurred by certain arthropod pests and therefore merit consideration in efforts to develop improved integrated pest management strategies.

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