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USDA $400,000 federal grant to fight potato pest

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced a commitment of $400,000 in federal funds to the Federal Golden Nematode Laboratory at Cornell University last week. The funds, administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS), will pay for upgrades to the lab’s facilities and equipment. The 60-year-old lab, which is used by USDA-ARS and Cornell scientists to control potentially devastating golden nematodes and pale cyst nematodes, is “the…

Ongoing monitoring program finds potato psyllids

University of Lethbridge biogeography professor Dr. Dan Johnson and his team have been monitoring Prairie potato fields for the past few years, looking for evidence of the potato psyllid insect and a bacterium it can carry that can lead to zebra chip disease in potato crops. So far in 2017, the number of potato psyllids has been lower than in previous years. U.S. researchers and research news also report lower numbers this…

National Potato Psyllid Monitoring Program

In 2016, the National Potato Psyllid Monitoring Program placed, picked up and examined 380 sampling cards in southern Alberta, with about 140 in the field. The program also received cards from Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. As of mid-June 2017, the program was just beginning to sample for this season, with four sampling cards on stakes at each of 40 sites in Alberta, and other…

Potato Pests Outlook 2017

By all accounts, the potato industry in Canada is a healthy one, and things are certainly looking up for 2017. But to get there, potato growers know they must deal with the inevitable snags that can arise during the growing season. Namely: potato pests, such as insects and diseases. Spud Smart reached out to some experts in the field in late June to determine what risks growers may face. Prince Edward Island…

Light potato psyllid pressure in Idaho

In Idaho, pressure from the tiny, winged insects that spread zebra chip disease in potatoes has been light this season, emboldening some Idaho farmers to scale back on their pesticide programs. Zebra chip, which is caused by the Liberibacter bacterium and spread by potato psyllids, first arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 2011. The disease creates bands in tuber flesh that darken during frying, rendering spuds unmarketable. University of Idaho (UI) extension…

To protect crops, farmers could promote potato beetle cannibalism

Colorado potato beetles can decimate spud crops by devouring the plants’ foliage. There’s more unsettling news — each female Colorado potato beetle can lay about 600 eggs in a growing season. And the species — Leptinotarsa decemlineata — easily develops resistance to pesticides. What might slow their devastation of potato crops? Perhaps cannibalism, say University of Maine researchers. In Maine alone, the 2016 potato harvest was valued at more than $142 million….

Wireworms – Know Them, Control Them

A key hurdle in managing wireworms is that different species can have different responses to control measures. So in 2004, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers launched the first-ever nation-wide survey of wireworm pest species. Now this challenging survey is in its final year. “The survey is foundational to our development of integrated pest management strategies for wireworms right across Canada,” says Bob Vernon, the AAFC research scientist who is leading the…

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…

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