Plastic reflective mulches significantly reduced populations of corn leafhopper, Dalbulus maidis (DeLong & Wolcott), adults and the incidence of corn stunt disease caused by Spiroplasma kunkelii (CSS) in late planted sweet corn (Zea mays L.). The reflective mulches were more effective than were either foliar or soil applied insecticides in managing both the leafhopper and the pathogen it transmits. Yields of marketable ears were 1.5 to 2 times greater in reflective mulch plots than from fallow plots. This was due to larger ears (individual ear weight and length) rather than an increase in the number of ears. The use of reflective mulches provides an alternative strategy to insecticides in the management of both D. maidis and corn stunt disease. Such a strategy may prove useful to growers in Latin America and to limited resource growers and organic growers in the United States who wish to grow corn without the use of insecticides.
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Vol. 95 • No. 2