OPTIMIZING MANAGEMENT OF ONION THRIPS
Onion thrips, Thrips tabaci, are one of the most economically damaging pests for onion growers in Western NY. In addition to reducing photosynthetic capabilities of plants, they can also vector Iris Yellow Spot Virus (Bunyaviridae: Tospovirus), transport Stemphylium leaf blight disease spores (Pleosporaceae: Stemphylium vesicarium), and provide entry points for bacterial bulb rots. Thus, effective management of thrips is criticaI to onion production. I am currently studying the use of reduced rates of fertilizer as a cultural control tactic for onion thrips, in combination with action-threshold based insecticide usage. These trials are being replicated in four commercial onion fields across the Elba Muck region of New York. In addition to assessing thrips populations throughout the season, I measure yield and bulb rot prevalence following harvest to assess impacts of fertilizer rate on yield and storage quality.