Blackberry Cultivar Feeding Preference of Adult Japanese Beetles

in HortScience

The Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) is one of the most widespread and destructive invasive insect pests in the eastern United States. Blackberry (Rubus sp.) production in the United States has increased significantly in recent years. With the introduction of new blackberry cultivars, insect resistance should become the focus of further breeding efforts. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the susceptibility of 13 blackberry cultivars to the Japanese beetle. The seasonal population dynamics of this insect, beetle damage to blackberry foliage, and beetle preference of blackberry cultivars were monitored from 2016 to 2018 on a blackberry plantation in Mountain Grove, MO. Japanese beetles feeding on blackberries occurred between 814 to 1251 cumulative degree-days (CDD; base, 10 °C) after 1 Jan. The following cultivars were evaluated: Apache, APF-40, Arapaho, Chester, Chickasaw, Kiowa, Natchez, Osage, Ouachita, Prime-Ark 45, Prime-Jan, Prime-Jim, and Triple Crown. Foliage damage incidence, defined as average percentage of leaves damaged by beetles on a given cane, did not differ among the cultivars. However, average severity of damage, estimated by rating on a scale from 0 (least) to 5 (most) of all damaged leaves on a given cane was different among cultivars. Ouachita and APF-40 exhibited the lowest damage severity rating among floricanes and primocanes, respectively. Apache (a floricane) and Prim-Jan (a primocane) were the most susceptible cultivars. Japanese beetle preferences for cultivars correlated with the degree of foliage damage. Because all blackberry cultivars exhibited similar foliage feeding incidence, but different feeding severity, we suggest the Japanese beetle does not differentiate among blackberry cultivars from a distance, but does upon contact with the foliage of a given plant.

Contributor Notes

This research was supported by statutory funds provided by Missouri State University.We thank Shelia Long, Jeremy Emery, Randy Stout, and Jessica Veenstra for their help in the field. Dr. Chin-Feng Huang and Marilyn Odneal reviewed the manuscript prior to submission.

Corresponding author. E-mail:

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