Early season, premature topping of tobacco plants (destruction of the apical meristem) by tobacco budworm larvae is the most severe type of injury caused by this insect. We simulated this injury by pinching the terminal bud of from 2.5-40 percent plants per plot, and then measured the additional costs of managing the crop under two management scenarios: a hand-labor intensive program, and a mechanized program. We measured the time it took to manage regrowth (“suckers”), top the plants, and harvest the plots, and we also measured tobacco leaf yield and calculated value. In 2000 and 2001, simulated injury resulted in lush axial bud growth and significantly increased management costs as measured by time at rates higher than 10 percent in the hand-labor system; however, no yield or value penalty was observed at injury rates below 40 percent affected plants. In 2002, management costs were again significantly higher in hand-labor plots with injury rates greater than 10 percent; management costs were unaffected in the mechanized management plots. In 2002 no yield or value differences could be detected among any of the treatments.
Species 1: Lepidoptera Noctuidae Heliothis virescens (Tobacco Budworm)
Keywords: economic damage
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