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Row Covers: Effects of Wool and Other Materials on Pest Numbers, Microclimate, and Crop Quality

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An investigation evaluating the potential of biodegradable woolen crop covers to protect vegetable crops from low temperatures, weed competition, and insect pests was conducted in the South Island of New Zealand. Needle-punched wool felt covers were compared in a randomized block design experiment (3 replicates) containing 3 synthetic covers-spunbound polyester, polyolefin fabric, and clear polythene-with uncovered pesticide-treated plots and control plots. The 21 plots each contained 30 cabbage (cv. Derby Day) and 30 lettuce (cv. Great Lakes) plants. Numbers of aphids, Brevicoryne brassicae (L.); small white butterfly larvae, Artogeia rapae (L.); thrips (Thysanoptera) larvae; and slugs, Sarasinula plebeia (L.), were recorded on the plants 7 wk after planting. There were significantly more aphids recorded on cabbage plants beneath the 80-g/ m2 wool than on plants in the other 6 treatments. This possibly was caused by the plants penetrating the 80-g/m2 wool cover, making them available to insect pests and thereby reducing the effectiveness of the product as a protective barrier from insect pests. No plants penetrated the other covers tested. There were significantly fewer slugs under the wool cover (80-g/m2) than under the polyolefin fiber cover. Higher and less variable temperatures were recorded under the wool covers. The possible improvement of the wool cover by strengthening, and its commercial viability as a biodegradable row cover, are discussed.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 1997

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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