Abstract

The direct effect of Palmer amaranth, Amaranthus palmeri Watson, on cotton growth and development is well documented, but its indirect effect through harboring feeding insects is less understood. Palmer amaranth emerged with cotton and remaining in the field for 30 days increased tarnished plant bug, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois), populations compared with a weed-free system. Weedy systems noted up to 49% more damaged terminals than weed-free systems, with cotton yield decreasing as damaged terminals increased at one of two locations. Thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) populations were effectively controlled with Aeris® (Bayer, St. Louis, MO) seed treatment (imidacloprid + thiodicarb at 0.375 mg active ingredient per seed), but there was no correlation between thrips infestations and increasing damaged cotton terminals. However, Aeris seed treatment significantly reduced the occurrence of damaged cotton terminals. In a second experiment, Palmer amaranth infesting an area adjacent to a weed-free cotton field had maximum damaged terminals of 51% on the cotton row proximal to the weedy area, with the distal cotton row (44 m away) having 8% terminal damage. Cotton yield significantly decreased as damaged terminals increased. A final bioassay experiment further evaluated the influence of seed treatment on tarnished plant bug feeding impacting cotton seedlings. With Aeris seed treatment, tarnished plant bug mortality was 97%, compared with 37% for nontreated seed. Results suggest tarnished plant bug infestations increased where Palmer amaranth was present in cotton fields. Additionally, greater Palmer amaranth infestations led to an increase in damaged cotton terminals and lower yields.

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