The current study investigated the impact of reflective mulch on yield of strawberry plants and incidence of damage by tarnished plant bugs, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois), for three strawberry cultivars: ‘Honeoye’, ‘Earliglow’, and two sibling Dayneutrals (‘Tribute’ and ‘Tristar’, herein considered as one cultivar). Of all cultivars tested, Honeoye was the most productive and least susceptible to tarnished plant bug. For Earliglow and Honeoye, reflective mulch enhanced productivity of strawberry plants and suppressed density of nymphs per flower cluster and proportion of damaged fruits, but did not significantly impact numbers of nymphs or damaged fruits per hectare. Results with Dayneutrals were not consistently significant. Both in the presence or absence of reflective mulch, proportion of damaged fruits increased with increasing density of nymphs per flower cluster and with decreasing number of fruits harvested per row section, suggesting that planting productive strawberry cultivars or maintaining cultural practices that promote high yield may provide an effective line of defense against tarnished plant bug. These results also suggest that reflective mulch may suppress incidence of damage by tarnished plant bug both directly, by reducing number of nymphs per flower cluster, and indirectly, by enhancing productivity of strawberry plants. Economic analyses evaluating costs and benefits of using reflective mulch, as well as studies investigating mechanisms that underlie the impact of reflective mulch on yield and incidence of damage by tarnished plant bug, are still needed before reflective mulch can be implemented as a management strategy in commercial strawberry fields.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6