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Companion planting offers hope for wireworm control

Wireworm is persona non grata in many Canadian potato-growing areas, particularly in P.E.I., Alberta and B.C., where the pest causes millions of dollars of damage each year. “P.E.I. is a good example of where a wireworm problem is out of hand,” says Bob Vernon, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). “There’s a new species that’s come in from Europe that is now causing most of the damage: Agriotes sputator….

Seed potatoes go to waste due to trade restrictions

The repercussions of the tomato potato psyllid outbreak are taking shape in Western Australia (WA), with seed potato growers starting to feed hundreds of tonnes of perfectly good produce to their cattle. With exports of WA potatoes and tomatoes still ground to a halt, and a fully supplied local market, seed potato producers have no home for their produce. It has forced many growers, such as Albany’s Trevor Barker, to dump their…

WA potato farmers prepare to leave industry because of tomato potato psyllid outbreak

A Western Australia seed potato grower will know in the next six weeks whether his lifelong career will continue. “[Farming] is something that we’ve done not just because I wanted to but because I get a reward for it, financially and personally,” said Alan Parker. “[This] may be the last crop we grow here.” Usually at this time of year, Parker’s farm would be busy and in the middle of harvesting his…

Texas: Neonicotinoid insecticides losing efficiency in potato psyllid control

The Texas potato industry may be losing a mainstay in the battle against psyllids, according to a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study. Dr. Ada Szczepaniec, AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo, said while there may be varying degrees of resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides in populations of psyllids across Texas, her recent study indicates they’ve lost their punch. “We are able to provide strong evidence that these insecticides no longer suppress populations of…

IPM Training Module Launched

Positive comments are coming fast and furious for a new potato integrated pest management (IPM) training module recently launched by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). According to OMAFRA, “the module is a great educational tool with information for the common insect pests, diseases, viruses and disorders of potatoes in Ontario.” The creator of the module is Eugenia Banks, OMAFRA’s longtime potato specialist who retired in late 2015….

Managing Soil-Borne Pests, Diseases

For potato farmers, soil-borne pests and diseases are like that pesky younger sibling that’s always trying to get you in trouble: ignore them at your peril. Hazards such as Verticillium, nematodes, pink rot and Rhizoctonia can have a big impact on the bottom line if not kept in check. For this edition of Roundtable, Spud Smart sought input from three industry experts on the financial importance of these potato problems, and best…

Potato pest worries farmers in Australia

Potato producers in southwest Western Australia say the detection of the tomato potato psyllid is a “serious blow” to their industry. The psyllid is known to attack a range of plants in the Solanaceae family, including potato and also sweet potato. It is the first time the pest has been detected in Australia. It has so far been detected in tomatoes and eggplants in Perth, in tomatoes at two properties in Mount…

More tools for wireworm control

Two researchers have done extensive work to improve and expand options for controlling wireworms, including insecticides and crop rotations. However, none of the available options gives complete control, and wireworm populations are exploding in some parts of Canada. New, innovative traps are set to become valuable additional tools in the fight against these very damaging pests. Wireworms belong to the Elateridae family. Canada has about 30 wireworm species of economic importance. A…

PMRA proposes phase-out of imidacloprid use

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is proposing to phase-out all the agricultural and a majority of other outdoor uses of imidacloprid over three to five years. Imidacloprid (Admire) is a neonicotinoid insecticide used by commercial applicators and growers to manage insects on a large number of agricultural crops, including potatoes in which it provides extended control of Colorado potato beetle, aphids, potato leafhopper and potato flea beetle. Health Canada recently…

Search warrants for potato pest ordered at E. Idaho farms

A federal judge has approved search warrants to take samples from fields in southeast Idaho after farmers refused to allow federal authorities to check for a microscopic potato pest. U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Friday denied a motion by farmers seeking to delay the testing until a related lawsuit is settled. Some sampling was already carried out before Dale’s ruling, and additional soil samples are expected to be taken this week…

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