Oebalus pugnax (F.) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) damage to rice, Orya savita L., reduces rough and head rice yields, and grain quality. O. pugnax feeds on developing kernels, introducing pathogenic fungi and causing a discoloration of the grain known as “peck.” The objective of this study was to determine the stage of rice panicle development most susceptible to O. pugnax attack. During 2005 and 2006, in greenhouse and field experiments, rice plants were caged at the boot stage and then infested with adult or nymphal O. pugnax. Plants were infested during one of three stages of panicle development: heading, milk, or soft dough. Insects were allowed to feed on the plants for the duration of each stage and then killed. After maturation, panicles were harvested, and grain was hulled and milled. Grain weight, percentage of pecky grain, and percentage of whole grain after milling were recorded. No differences were found in the weight of rough, brown, or milled rice infested with O. pugnax during different stages of panicle development. Number of filled grains per cage was not affected by O. pugnax, and number of empty grains per cage was affected in two of four experiments. Higher percentage of peck was found in grain from panicles infested during dough and milk than in grain from panicles infested during heading. Adult O. pugnax caused higher percentage of peck than nymphs in all stages of panicle development. An inverse relationship was found between percentage of peck and percentage of whole grain weight only in one of the experiments.
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