In Wisconsin, vegetable crops are threatened annually by the aster yellows phytoplasma (AYp), which is obligately transmitted by the aster leafhopper. Using a multiyear, multilocation data set, seasonal patterns of leafhopper abundance and infectivity were modeled. A seasonal aster yellows index (AYI) was deduced from the model abundance and infectivity predictions to represent the expected seasonal risk of pathogen transmission by infectious aster leafhoppers. The primary goal of this study was to identify periods of time during the growing season when crop protection practices could be targeted to reduce the risk of AYp spread. Based on abundance and infectivity, the annual exposure of the carrot crop to infectious leafhoppers varied by 16- and 70-fold, respectively. Together, this corresponded to an estimated 1,000-fold difference in exposure to infectious leafhoppers. Within a season, exposure of the crop to infectious aster leafhoppers (Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes), varied threefold because of abundance and ninefold because of infectivity. Periods of above average aster leafhopper abundance occurred between 11 June and 2 August and above average infectivity occurred between 27 May and 13 July. A more comprehensive description of the temporal trends of aster leafhopper abundance and infectivity provides new information defining when the aster leafhopper moves into susceptible crop fields and when they transmit the pathogen to susceptible crops.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3