Date of Award:

5-1-2011

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Plants, Soils, and Climate

Advisor/Chair:

Jennifer Reeve

Abstract

Onion production in the United States is seriously affected by the tospovirus Iris Yellow Spot (IYSV), whose symptoms include lenticular-shaped lesions that reduce photosynthesis and bulb yield. Thrips tabacai Lindeman, onion thrips (OT), is the only known vector of the disease and a primary arthropod pest of onion. Frequent insecticide applications, increasing resistance in OT populations to insecticides, high nitrogen (N) fertilization rates and loss of yield to disease and insect pressure threaten sustainable onion production. The objectives of this study were to identify crop management strategies to enhance onion productivity while suppressing OT and IYSV. Three fertilizer rates and two crop rotations were assigned to replicated plots to assess effects on onion growth, yield, bulb storage quality, soil quality, thrips populations and IYSV incidence. Trap crops of carrot, buckwheat and lacey phacelia were established in commercial fields to evaluate impact on thrips populations and IYSV occurence. Reduced nitrogen (N) rates, one-third the standard grower rate (133.8 kg N ha-1), resulted in no yield loss as compared with the standard N rate, despite slower crop maturation. Onions treated with a standard N rate(401.8 kg N ha-1) had greater numbers of adult and immature OT than other treatments. Soil nitrate levels were lower and microbial activity measured as dehydrogenase and biomass were greater in reduced N treatments. Plots with buckwheat and phacelia had greater numbers of both adult and immature OT when trap crop apparancy was high (i.e. when onion plants were relatively smaller). There was no observed effect of trap crops on IYSV levels. Results suggest that reduced rate N applications lower numbers of OT while enhancing the microbial population, reducing potential for nitrate leaching while still maintaining yields. Potential for trap crops of buckwheat and lacey phacelia to attract onion thrips from onions exists with successive stands of highly apparent trap crops.

Comments

This work made publicly available electronically on August 4, 2011.

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