Impact of nitrogen fertilization on Mexican rice borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae) injury and yield in bioenergy sorghum
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2016. The Mexican rice borer, Eoreuma loftini (Dyar) (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), is a serious pest of sugarcane (Saccharum spp.), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench), corn (Zea mays L.), rice (Oryza sativa L.), and related graminaceous bioenergy crops. A two-year field study was conducted in Jefferson County, TX to examine the impact of nitrogen (N) fertilization on E. loftini infestations and subsequent yields in cultivars of high-biomass and sweet sorghum. In 2013, percentage of bored internodes and number of adult emergence holes per stalk increased with higher N rates; however, only the percentage of bored internodes was impacted by N in 2014. Yields from both years indicated that N rate was positively associated with increases in stalk weight and ethanol productivity, but not sucrose concentration. Because higher N rates were associated with increased yields despite having greater levels of E. loftini injury, our data suggest that increases in yield from additional N outweigh decreases from additional E. loftini injury. Fertilization rates maintained between the recommended 45 and 90 kg N/ha minimize risks of negative area-wide impacts from increased production of E. loftini adults, while still allowing for optimum yields.