Can Cover Crop Residues Suppress Pests and Improve Yield in Eggplant?
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Field studies were conducted over three growing seasons to investigate the effects of planting eggplant following three winter cover crop treatments on the abundance, predation, and colonization of Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) and flea beetle (Epitrix spp.) abundance. Colorado potato beetle densities were observed to be significantly higher in the early season, and lower in the mid- and late- season when eggplant was planted into a crimson clover residue, compared with a crimson clover – rye mixture or bare ground control. Flea beetle abundance was significantly higher in treatments planted with a winter cover crop. Seedbed preparation treatments for weed control did not significantly affect pest abundance. These results contrast with previous research, raising new questions about how cover crop mixtures interact with pests, and how suppression methods influence the effects cover crops have on arthropod populations.