Timothy (Phleum pratense L.) is an important forage crop in many Western U.S. states. Marketing of timothy hay is primarily based on esthetics, and green color is an important attribute. The objective of these studies was to determine a relationship between arthropod populations, yield, and esthetic injury in timothy. Economic injury levels (EILs) and economic thresholds were calculated based on these relationships. Thrips (Thripidae) numbers were manipulated with insecticides in small plot studies in 2006, 2007, and 2008, although tetranychid mite levels were incidentally flared by cyfluthrin in some experiments. Arthropod population densities were determined weekly, and yield and esthetic injury were measured at each harvest. Effects of arthropods on timothy were assessed using multilinear regression. Producers were also surveyed to relate economic loss from leaf color to the injury ratings for use in establishing EILs. Thrips population levels were significantly related to yield loss in only one of nine experiments. Thrips population levels were significantly related to injury once before the first annual harvest and twice before the second. Thrips were the most important pest in these experiments, and they were more often related to esthetic injury rather than yield loss. EILs and economic thresholds for thrips population levels were established using esthetic injury data. These results document the first example of a significant relationship between arthropod pest population levels and economic yield and quality losses in timothy.
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