Lesser cornstalk borer, Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is an important pest of sugarcane (a complex hybrid of Saccharum spp.) in southern Florida. Cultural controls for E. lignosellus were evaluated in preparation for the potential loss of effective insecticides. Field studies conducted in 2006 compared the effects of harvest residues from green-harvested sugarcane (no preharvest burning to remove leaf matter) on E. lignosellus stalk damage and yield. Damage by E. lignosellus was significantly lower in plant cane plots that were covered with harvest residues collected from a green-harvested field before shoot emergence compared with plots without harvest residue. There were no yield differences between plots with and without harvest residues in plant or ratoon sugarcane fields in the 2006 study. The effects of three postharvest tillage levels (conventional, intermediate, and no tillage) were evaluated in preharvest burned and green-harvested fields in 2008 and 2009. Significantly less E. lignosellus damage was observed in the green- versus preharvest burned fields in both years. Intermediate and no-tillage plots had very little damage in green-harvested field. Conventional tillage plots had the greatest damage in the green-harvested field and the lowest damage in the preharvest burned field. In 2008, biomass yield was greater in the intermediate than conventional tillage in the green-harvested field, but it was greater in the conventional than in other tillage levels in the preharvest burned field. These studies demonstrated that cultural controls could greatly reduce E. lignosellus damage in sugarcane without the use of insecticides.
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Vol. 104 • No. 1