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Delayed control of weeds in glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet and the consequences on aphid infestation and yield

Dewar, A.M., Haylock, L.A., Bean, K.M., May, M.J.
Pest management science 2000 v.56 no.4 pp. 345-350
Beta vulgaris, glyphosate, herbicide resistance, genetic engineering, Myzus persicae, Brachycaudus helichrysi, weed control, crop-weed competition, crop yield, transgenic plants, United Kingdom
An experiment was set up in 1998 to study the effect of glyphosate on the weeds and pests in glyphosate-tolerant sugar beet, in comparison with a conventional herbicide regime. Glyphosate at 1.08 kg ha-1 was first applied at the two- to four-leaf, 8- to 10-leaf and 12- to 14-leaf stage of the crop, followed by a second application at the same rate two to four weeks later. Weed growth did not affect sugar beet emergence or establishment, but, in untreated controls and the two later glyphosate treatments, weeds almost completely covered the ground, leading to reduction of root weight, sugar concentration and yield at harvest. The number of aphids (mostly Myzus persicae Sulzer) in the beet in June was significantly higher on plots treated with glyphosate at the two- to four-leaf stage than on untreated plots or plots treated later with glyphosate. Large numbers of the leaf curling plum aphid (Brachycaudus helichrysi Kaltenbach) colonised the weeds within untreated or later-treated plots. These were accompanied by predators and parasites which eventually caused substantial mortality in the aphid populations. There was evidence that glyphosate-treated weeds, although not in competition with the crop, were still able to provide sustenance for aphids. Very low levels of virus yellows were observed in the trial, and there were no significant differences between treatments. The results suggest that the latest application of the first glyphosate spray in a two-spray programme should be before the eight-leaf stage of the sugar beet to prevent weed competition reducing yield. Further studies on late control of weeds and insect diversity are being carried out.