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Prediction of Early Season Beet Leafhopper Populations in Southern New Mexico

E. Lehnhoff and R. Creamer

February 2020


Curly top is an important widespread disease in semiarid regions that can be caused by several Curtovirus and Becurtovirus species. The strains of beet curly top virus (BCTV) have been some of the most widely reported to be associated with curly top. The viruses causing curly top are phloem limited and transmitted by the beet leafhopper (BLH), Circulifer tenellus Baker (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). The BLH can also transmit other important pathogens such as phytoplasmas. Both the virus and insect vector have a broad host range of crops and weeds, including the winter annual weed London rocket (Sisymbrium irio L.). Prior prediction of disease would allow growers a window of opportunity to make informed management choices. A prediction model of BLH abundance was developed for southern New Mexico based on fall precipitation, which corresponds with London rocket emergence, and BLH sticky trap catch data for 2001 to 2018. Regression analyses showed positive associations between BLH numbers and October + November rainfall (P < 0.001) for two areas within southern New Mexico. A third area, where good weed management was used, had lower BLH numbers, and the relationship with precipitation was not significant (P = 0.190). Cumulative-season BLH abundance was correlated with BLH abundance in late April (r = 0.43) and late May (r = 0.56), indicating that early season knowledge of BLH abundance is useful for planning later season management. Although models based on October + November precipitation are good predictors of BLH abundance through June, they may not predict year-long BLH abundance because other environmental and biological factors contribute to subsequent BLH success and movement.


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