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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…

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…

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