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When pests graze certain potatoes, yields double

When some Colombian potato varieties are lightly grazed by a pest, the plants respond by growing larger tubers, at times doubling their yields. Although many types of plants can repair pest damage while maintaining productivity, it’s rare to find species that actually overcompensate and increase productivity. Cornell and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia researchers first discovered this effect in a commercial Colombian potato in 2010. Now, a new study by the research…

Lunchtime is over for the Colorado potato beetle

Chemicals in the leaves of potato plants, produced naturally by the plant, may hold the key to a new way to control Colorado potato beetles — a major pest for potato growers. Dr. Helen Tai, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) research scientist, has turned to the leaves growing on wild potato relatives, leaves that beetles won’t eat, as a new approach to keep the pest away. Many plants in the potato…

Tasmanian potato growers preparing for the worst

Surveillance programs for tomato potato psyllid (TPP) are being ramped up in Tasmania as growers try to delay any incursion of the pest for as long as possible. TPP was detected in Western Australia (WA) earlier this year. Free sticky trap packs are being distributed by the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture to growers and agronomists to set up around the perimeter of susceptible crops, particularly potatoes, Tasmania’s biggest vegetable crop. The institute’s…

Zebra chip pathogen detected in psyllids in Alberta

Although the zebra chip pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso) has been detected in small numbers of potato psyllids in two sites in Alberta, no zebra chip symptoms or pathogen has been found in potato plant tissue. During three years of sampling for potato psyllids (Bactericera cockerelli) across Canada, the Canadian Potato Psyllid and Zebra Chip Monitoring Network found small numbers in Alberta (2015-2017, increasing annually), Saskatchewan (first time in 2016) and Manitoba…

Wasp released in NZ to control Tomato Potato Psyllid

A new biocontrol, Tamarixia trioaze, a parasitoid wasp which destroys the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) pest, has been released in Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury, New Zealand. These initial releases are the start of a wider planned release and monitoring program that is being supported with funding through the government of New Zealand’s Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF). The tomato potato psyllid has caused enormous problems for the potato, tomato, capsicum and tamarillo growers…

From our Desk

Psyllids and Zebra Chip

University of Lethbridge biogeography professor Dan Johnson has been monitoring Prairie potato fields for the past few years, looking for evidence of the potato psyllid and a bacterium it can carry that can lead to zebra chip disease in potato crops. The good news: So far in 2017, the number of potato psyllids has been lower than in previous years, both in Canada and the U.S. The better news: None of the…

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…

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