A field study examined the influence of southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula L., on late-season yield losses in cotton, Gossypium hirsutum L. These indirect harvest losses included rotted (complete tissue decay associated with pathogens) and hard-locked bolls (individual locules within a boll that remain compact and fail to open normally, associated with abiotic or biotic agents). Stink bugs were caged in plots of cotton under conditions of high rainfall and humidity, which favor pathogen development and physiological disorders in bolls. Boll-rotting pathogens (Diplodia spp. and Fusarium spp.) were isolated from rotted bolls. The percentage of rotted (2.0-fold) and hard-locked (1.4-fold) bolls within the stink bug–infested treatment was significantly greater compared with that in the noninfested treatment. Stink bug injury within hard-locked (1.9-fold) and harvestable (1.7-fold) bolls was more common in the infested treatment compared with those bolls in the noninfested treatment. Stink bugs significantly (1.1-fold) reduced the proportion of harvestable bolls as well as the amount of seedcotton, lint, and seed yield in the infested treatment compared with the noninfested treatment. Significantly more (1.5-fold) seedcotton from hard-locked bolls was collected in the stink bug–infested treatment. Stink bugs reduced germination of seed from harvestable bolls (1.2-fold), but seed germination from hard-locked bolls was not different between treatments. These studies show that southern green stink bug feeding can be associated with higher incidence of rotted and hard-locked bolls when conditions of high rainfall and humidity occur in cotton fields.
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