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6 September 2021 Understanding the Relationship Between Wireworm (Coleoptera: Elateridae) Damage, Varietal Resistance, and Cover Crop Use in Organic Sweetpotato
Alyssa M. Pellegrino, Alex L. Woodley, Anders S. Huseth
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North Carolina is the largest producer of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatus L.) in the United States but only a small percentage of total production is organic. Transition to organic sweetpotato production has been limited, in part due to a lack of effective non-chemical strategies to control wireworms (Coleoptera: Elateridae). To help bridge this knowledge gap, this study focused on documenting the relationship between wireworm damage to sweetpotato roots and the use of cover crops, a common way to maintain soil health in organic production. This study also tested a wireworm-resistant variety (Monaco) against the widely cultivated susceptible variety (Covington). Two different field studies were used to test the interaction between cover crops and insect-resistant sweetpotato varieties. We first examined a reduced-till cover crop system where cover crop residue remained on the soil surface when transplanting sweetpotato. The following year, we tested a fully incorporated cover crop system with spring termination and intensive tillage before sweetpotato transplanting. To complement these field studies, a greenhouse experiment was conducted to compare the efficacy of the wireworm-resistant variety with two susceptible sweetpotato varieties. Results show that varietal resistance had a strong effect on the amount of wireworm damage observed, with susceptible sweetpotato having more direct wireworm damage than the resistant variety. The effect of the cover crop was not found to be significant in any trial. This study provides important context about the role of varietal resistance in organic production and relatively low risk of cover crop use.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Alyssa M. Pellegrino, Alex L. Woodley, and Anders S. Huseth "Understanding the Relationship Between Wireworm (Coleoptera: Elateridae) Damage, Varietal Resistance, and Cover Crop Use in Organic Sweetpotato," Journal of Economic Entomology 114(5), 2127-2134, (6 September 2021).
Received: 8 March 2021; Accepted: 15 May 2021; Published: 6 September 2021

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Ipomoea batatus
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