Neotephritis finalis (Loew) (Diptera: Tephritidae), and sunflower bud moth, Suleima helianthana (Riley) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) are major head-infesting insect pests of cultivated sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.). Planting date was evaluated as a cultural pest management strategy for control of N. finalis and S. helianthana in several production regions of North Dakota during 2009 and 2010. Results of the nine site-year study revealed that late planting date (early to mid-June) reduced damage ratings and percentage of damaged heads for N. finalis compared with early planting dates (mid- to late May). Visual observations of adult N. finalis found that the majority of flies were found in the early planted sunflower (78.2%) compared with the late planted sunflower (21.8%). Late planting date also reduced the percentage of S. helianthana damaged heads compared with early planting dates. Yield losses were reduced with late planting date when populations of N. finalis and S. helianthana were high enough to cause damage. Results of this study showed that delayed planting is an effective integrated pest management strategy that can reduce head damage caused by N. finalis and S. helianthana and mitigate yield losses.
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