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Re-evaluation of sugarcane borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) bioeconomics in Louisiana
The sugarcane borer, Diatraea saccharalis (F.) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), is the key insect pest of sugarcane, Saccharum spp., grown in Louisiana. For more than 40 years, Louisiana sugarcane farmers have used a value of 10% internodes bored at harvest as the economic injury level (EIL). Three plant-cane studies were conducted to re-evaluate the long-standing sugarcane borer EIL level using the most recently released varieties of sugarcane. Varieties were exposed to artificially enhanced borer infestations; the experimental treatments consisted of borer control with insecticides or no control. Data were collected on infestation intensity, damage intensity, and associated yield losses. Crop yields from plots were obtained by mechanical harvesting, and losses were classified as field losses, e.g. losses of gross tonnage in the field and factory losses, e.g., losses that were realized at the factory as cane is being milled. Farm income is based on the product of these two measures of yield, i.e. cane yieldxsugar yield. In our study, seasonal stalk-infestation counts did not reveal any indication of preference by the borer moths for a specific variety; infestation pressure was generally uniform within a season among the varieties that we planted. Significant differences were detected among the varieties for harvest percentage of internodes bored as well as yields between borer-controlled and non-controlled plots (P<0.05). In general, varieties were less susceptible to losses in the field (sugarcane yields) than in the factory (sugar yields). As a group, the most recent varieties released to Louisiana growers exhibit more tolerance to the borer than varieties grown 40 years ago. The percent reduction in sugar/ha loss per 1% internodes bored has decreased from an average of 0.74 for varieties grown in the 1960s to 0.61 as a mean for the newly released varieties. Although the cost associated with an insecticide application for sugarcane borer control has increased nearly 4-fold from 1971 to present, sugar yields have increased by approximately 60% allowing farmers to offset some of these increased costs. Our economic analysis indicates that the EIL of 10% internodes bored is too high, considering the high yielding potential and susceptibility of currently grown varieties. For the most at risk farmer, the tenant farmer, a more appropriate value for the EIL is 6% internodes bored. However, this EIL can be raised 12% if a resistant variety is grown.
Crop protection 2008 Sept., v. 27, no. 9
[Amsterdam]: Elsevier Science
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