We investigated the effects of ultraviolet (UV)-reflective mulch and two rates of nitrogen fertilization on populations of Frankliniella spp. thrips and on the incidence of tomato spotted wilt in field-grown tomato in northern Florida. The higher of the two soil nitrogen fertilizer treatments significantly increased populations of Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande), whereas mulch reflectance significantly decreased populations of F. occidentalis. Populations of Frankliniella tritici (Fitch) were decreased only by UV-reflective mulch. Decreased thrips populations in UV-reflective mulch plots were probably due to disruptions in host-finding behavior. Increased thrips populations in tomatoes treated with the higher nitrogen fertilization rate were probably due in part to increased nutrients available in flowers. Incidence of tomato spotted wilt was significantly decreased in tomatoes grown on UV-reflective mulch, whereas disease incidence was significantly greater in increased nitrogen-fertilized plots. This research reveals that cultural practices resulted in up to 45% reduction in the numbers of vector and nonvector species of flower thrips and up to 50% reduction in tomato spotted wilt.
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Vol. 95 • No. 6