Simple SummaryAlthough studies have started to show that the effects of cover crops can translate into the cash cropping season, there is little information on the cascading effects of cover crops on the subsequent cash crop defenses, especially against polyphagous herbivores. To bridge this information gap, we conducted a field and laboratory study to investigate the cascading effects of different cover crop species on the subsequent cash crop defense against the polyphagous herbivore fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) across three fields in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. Our field and laboratory results revealed that cover crop treatments differentially affected S. frugiperda growth and development. We also show that cover crops had a positive cascading effect on the growth and development of S. frugiperda on the subsequent cash crop. Collectively, our results add an additional line of evidence on how cover crops can affect pest dynamics outside the cash crop season.
AbstractRecent studies have started to show that the benefits of cover crops can cascade to the cash crop growing seasons. However, the impact of cover crops on the subsequent cash crop defense against herbivores is not well understood. To test this, we conducted a field and laboratory study to assess the possible cascading effects of cover crops such as Vigna unguiculata, Sorghum drummondii, Raphanus sativus, and Crotalaria juncea on the subsequent cash crop (Sorghum bicolor) defense against the notorious polyphagous herbivore fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) across three farms in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Our field and laboratory studies showed that the cash crop planted in the cover crop treatment differentially affected S. frugiperda. More specifically, we found that cover crops have positive effects on the growth and development of S. frugiperda on the subsequent cash crop, including both larval and pupal parameters. However, our experiments on physical and chemical defenses in cash crops failed to show any significant differences between cover and control. Collectively, our results add an additional line of evidence on the effects of cover crops on pest dynamics outside the cash crop season, a key consideration for the selection and management of cover crops and cash crops, whose underlying mechanisms need to be examined further.
Fajemisin, A.; Racelis, A.; Kariyat, R. Cascading Effects of Cover Crops on the Subsequent Cash Crop Defense against the Polyphagous Herbivore Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). Insects 2023, 14, 177. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects14020177
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