Experiments were conducted over a 4-yr period that examined the effect reflective, black, and no-mulch had on aphid populations, incidence of virus infected pumpkin plants, and yield of pumpkin. Three different planting dates and their effect on viral infection and yield were also investigated. The use of reflective mulches significantly reduced the number of alates landing in these rows compared with black- or no-mulch rows. The reduction in aphid numbers resulted in a reduction in the percent of plants infected with virus. Approximately 10 times more plants were infected with virus in the black and no-mulch plots than in the reflective mulch plots in mid- to late July. However, by the end of August, all treatments had near 100% of plants infected with virus. This delay in viral infection in reflective mulch plots resulted in a 45 and 120% increase in pumpkin yield compared with black mulch and no-mulch plots, respectively. First plantings always had greater yields than later plantings. The interaction between mulch type and planting time was significant. Reflective mulches increased yields overall, but significantly increased yields compared with black or no-mulch in second and third plantings. The use of reflective mulch combined with timely planting is a cost effective way of delaying virus problems and increasing pumpkin yields in midwestern United States.
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Vol. 93 • No. 3