Submitted to: Environmental and Experimental Botany
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2007
Publication Date: 1/2/2008
Citation: Li, H., Payne, W., Michels, G., Rush, C. 2008. Reducing plant abiotic and biotic stress: Drought and attacks of greenbugs, corn leaf aphids, and virus disease in dryland sorghum. Environmental and Experimental Botany. 63:305-316. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Multi-year spatial overlay patterns of plants, insects and soil water may yield insights for management for reducing biotic and abiotic stresses in dryland crops. A study of non-irrigated grain sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) was conducted in a Pullman clay loam on the semi-arid High Plain of Texas during 2002–2005. The objectives of the 4-year study were to understand the mechanisms of plant spatial and temporal responses to stress from drought, infestations of greenbug, corn leaf aphid (CLA) and maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV) disease and soil water content (SWC) heterogeneity, and to reduce plant biotic and abiotic stress using their underlying relationships in space and time. Infrared IRt/c sensed-canopy temperature was measured at 18 or 54 sites along transects in a 6 m × 6 m grid across the years. Greenbugs, CLA, MDMV, SWC and hyperstectral reflectance were determined at each IRt/c site. Natural infestations of greenbugs and CLA on sorghum occurred in early July and insect populations peaked in late July or early August. Insect attacks resulted in plant water stress and sorghum yield loss except a late replanting in early July in 2004. Sorghum grain yield was negatively correlated with canopy temperature, greenbug and CLA (-0.38 < r < -0.75, P < 0.05), and positively correlated with SWC and plant near infrared reflectance (0.25 < r < 0.67, P < 0.05). The IRt/c temperature decreased with SWC but increased with greenbugs and CLA (0.26 < R2 < 0.64). Crosscorrelation analysis showed that these insect, crop, and soil variables were correlated in space within 48–54 m. Late planting in July or spray control in late July or early August would be options to reduce dryland sorghum water stress and yield loss from drought and insect attacks.