Studies were conducted to examine the effect of potassium (K) on soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura, population growth. A laboratory feeding assay examined the effect of K-deficient foliage on life table parameters of soybean aphids, and field experiments were designed to determine the effect of three soil K treatment levels on aphid populations and their impact on soybean yields. The feeding assay found that life table parameters differed between aphids feeding on the K-deficient and nondeficient soybean leaves. Soybean aphids in the K-deficient treatment exhibited significantly greater intrinsic rate of increase (rm), finite rate of increase (λ), and net reproductive rate (Ro) relative to aphids feeding on nondeficient leaves. No significant difference was observed in mean generation time (T) between the two treatments. However, the field experiment repeated over 2 yr showed no effect of K on soybean aphid populations. Soybean aphid populations were high in unsprayed plots and feeding resulted in significant yield losses in 2002 at all three K treatment levels: when averaged across 2001 and 2002, unsprayed treatments yielded 22, 18, and 19.5% less than the sprayed plots in the low, medium, and high K treatments, respectively. No significant interaction was observed between aphid abundance and K level on soybean yields in either year. This study therefore suggests that although aphids can perform better on K-deficient plants, aphid abundance in the field may be dependent on additional factors, such as dispersal, that may affect final densities within plots.
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Vol. 98 • No. 1