Reducing seed-densities in rice seedbeds improves the cultural control of apple snail damage

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Journal Article
Crop Protection, 2014, 62 pp. 23 - 31
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Several cultural methods are known to reduce the densities of exotic apple snails (Pomacea spp.) and the damage they cause to rice in Asia. However, one aspect of seedling production - seedbed seed-density - has been largely overlooked and could compromise popular cultural control methods such as delayed transplanting. We conducted experiments to examine the effects of seedbed seed-density on hill survival in snail-infested paddy fields in the Philippines and to examine the interactions between seedbed seed-density and other cultural methods (delayed transplanting, 3 seedlings per hill and hand-picking). Seedbed seed-density determined seedling weight and stem thickness at the time of transplanting. Hill survival was highest where cultural methods (delayed transplanting and 3 seedlings per hill) were combined with low seed-density seedbeds (60-120gm-2). Furthermore, reduced seedbed seed-density was directly related to increased hill biomass in field plots 32 days after transplanting. Hand-picking of snails together with delayed transplanting and 3 seedlings per hill eliminated hill mortality due to snail herbivory. Farmers adopting cultural snail control methods, but without adhering to low seedbed seed-densities risk increased losses due to snails because of poor quality seedlings. We suggest that seedbed seed-densities should not exceed 120gm-2 with better results at even lower densities. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
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