This study looked at regulated deficit irrigation (RDI) on leafhoppers in the genus Erythroneura (Erythroneura elegantula Osborn, or western grape leafhopper, and Erythroneura variabilis Beamer) (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), which are serious pests of cultivated grape (Vitis vinifera L.) in California. RDI is an irrigation strategy that reduces irrigation during a critical point in the phenology of a cultivated perennial crop, to improve vegetative balance and crop quality. Erythroneura spp. are known to respond negatively to vine water stress, and the second generation of leafhoppers begins during a potential RDI initiation period, between berry set and veraison (beginning of fruit maturation). In experiments at commercial wine grape vineyards, I imposed deficits of between 25 and 50% of crop full evapotranspiration (ETc) between berry set and veraison, with control treatments based on the growers’ standard irrigations (typically between 0.8 and 1.0 ETc), and then we counted leafhopper nymphs weekly, and leafhopper eggs after the second generation. Results show a consistent reduction of second generation nymphal density with this type of RDI, with average density ≈50% lower under deficit treatments in all three studies. Deficit irrigation reduced second generation egg density by 54% at one site and by 29.9% at another. These results confirm previous studies regarding the sensitivity of Erythroneura spp. to grapevine water stress, and, in addition, they show that a season-wide irrigation deficit is not necessary for reduction in leafhopper density. Results suggest that lower oviposition at least partly explains the lower nymphal density in the deficit treatments.
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Vol. 101 • No. 4