Sugarbeet, Beta vulgaris L., producers occasionally establish cereal cover crops to minimize early-season soil erosion, wind abrasion, and mechanical injury of seedlings. We evaluated the use of living oat, Avena sativa L., cover cropping as a cultural tactic to minimize feeding injury from sugarbeet root maggot, Tetanops myopaeformis (Röder), larvae at five field sites during 1996, 1998, and 1999. Sweep-net sampling yielded 4.8-, 11.2-, and 7.2-fold more flies from oat cover-cropped chlorpyrifos, terbufos, and untreated control plots, respectively, than in noncover counterparts. However, larval feeding injury in terbufos-treated plots was reduced when cover-cropped (383 seeds/m2) at St. Thomas in all years. A reduced oat seeding rate (224 seeds/m2) also enhanced root protection in terbufos-treated plots at St. Thomas in 1999. Less root injury was sustained in cover-cropped chlorpyrifos plots than in noncover counterparts at St. Thomas in 2 study yr. Oat cover cropping also frequently resulted in reduced T. myopaeformis feeding injury in the absence of a soil insecticide. Although trends toward increased yields were often evident, significant yield benefits were limited to a 6.8% root yield increase in oat cover plots when compared with noncover treatments overall at St. Thomas in 1996 and an 18.4% sucrose yield increase in terbufos-treated plots at St. Thomas in 1999. These findings suggest that beneficial interactions between planting-time soil insecticides and cereal cover crops are achievable in areas infested by T. myopaeformis. Demonstrated reductions in root feeding injury, combined with additional agronomic benefits, may warrant use of this production practice as part of an integrated management program for this key insect pest of sugarbeet.
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