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Severity of damage to Trifolium repens leaves by certain invertebrate species in mixed perennial ryegrass/white clover swards: response to cultivar, cutting frequency and sward characteristics

Li, F.
Grass and forage science 1999 v.54 no.2 pp. 137-143
Trifolium repens, Lolium perenne, leaves, plant pests, defoliation, stolons, sward, field experimentation, cultivars, botanical composition, slugs, biomass production, Netherlands
The severity of damage by certain invertebrate species to white clover (Trifolium repens) leaves on the main stolons of plants grown in mixed perennial ryegrass/white clover swards was examined in a field experiment in the Netherlands in which two cutting frequencies (high and low) and three white clover cultivars (Retor, Alice and Gwenda) were used. The damage to the leaves was described in terms of the numbers of damaged leaves and the extent of that damage (slight < 20%, moderate 20-50% and heavy > 50%). The relationships between leaf damage and sward characteristics (white clover content, above-ground biomass and sward height) were evaluated throughout the growing season. Over the whole experimental period, 23(.)7% and 27(.)4% of the total number of leaves produced per stolon were damaged by slugs and weevils in the low- and high-frequency cutting treatments respectively. High-frequency cutting increased the number of leaves in the total leaf damage and moderate leaf damage categories by 21(.)4% and 34(.)8%, respectively, compared with the low-frequency cutting. The cv. Retor (medium-leaved) experienced the most severe damage by invertebrates. It had much higher leaf damage than cvs Alice (large-leaved) and Gwenda (small-leaved) at either cutting frequency, both in the total number of damaged leaves and in the different damage categories. Differences among cultivars in the number of damaged leaves and relative leaf damage occurred primarily in spring, late summer and autumn, but did not differ during the early- and mid-summer months. This study indicates that variations in leaf damage among clover cultivars were associated with differences in measured sward characteristics. Both the number of damaged leaves and the relative leaf damage were strongly negatively correlated with white clover content and biomass in spring, late summer and autumn under each cutting treatment. White clover content and biomass explained 65%, 59% and 50% of the variation in the number of damaged leaves in spring, late summer and autumn, respectively, and 58%, 57% and 45% of the variation in relative leaf damage in these three periods. Thus, sward characteristics may play a role in regulating the severity of invertebrate damage to clover leaves in addition to the primary effects of HCN.