We compared the severity of insect problems in early and conventional soybean, Glycine max (L.) Merrill, production systems in the mid-South. The conventional soybean production system (cultivars in maturity groups V–VII planted in May) experienced significantly higher populations of late-season defoliators than the early soybean production system (cultivars in maturity group IV planted in April). However, the early soybean production system harbored significantly larger populations of southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (L.) and threecornered alfalfa hopper, Spissistilus festinus (Say). Predators were significantly more abundant in the early soybean production system compared with the conventional soybean production system, early in the growing season. Late in the growing season, predator populations were lower in both productions systems and differences between the two systems were not significant. The results from the current study illustrated the benefits of early-planted early-maturing cultivars (early soybean production system) in avoiding lepidopterous and coleopterous defoliators that occur late in the growing season. However, our data also indicate that arthropod management will be essential in the early soybean production system because widespread use of this system will result in an abundance of suitable hosts for early-season pests.
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