NZ: Mesh cheaper than chemicals in stopping potato psyllid

Charles Merfield with mesh which is more successful in warding off pests than chemicals.Scientist Dr Charles Merfield believes he has the answer to solving the problem of the potato psyllid, which costs growers about $10 million a year. Trials using mesh to cover the crops have shown an “astonishing” reduction in numbers of the insect, which delivers a damaging bacterium to the plant and tubers, causing major production losses. Not only does the mesh ward off the insects, it is about $1000 per hectare cheaper than chemicals, and increases yields by 12 per cent, so that gross margin profit rose between 27 to 75 per cent. “The economics are just amazing.  If this is not a stunning win for the New Zealand potato industry I don’t know what is,” Merfield, who is based at the Future Farming Centre at Lincoln University, said. “The result is utterly stunning, it is effectively complete control of potato psyllid. In comparison achieving complete control of any insect pest on crops with agrichemicals is nigh on impossible.  That this can be achieved with a non-chemical approach is even more heartening as it also addresses the spectre of insecticide resistance.” More

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Canada: Insect, disease outlook varied across the country

By all accounts, the potato industry in Canada is a healthy one, and things are certainly looking up for 2017. Spud Smart magazine reached out to some experts in the field in late June to determine what risks growers may face. Sebastian Ibarra, agri-environmental specialist with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries says the main potato pest in Prince Edward Island in 2016 was wireworms, and “it is likely that these pests will cause trouble again.” Khalil I. Al-Mughrabi, a pathologist with the Potato Development Centre, Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, says the main potato insect pests in New Brunswick last year were Colorado potato beetle and aphids. When it comes to diseases, Al-Mughrabi says late blight, early blight, pink rot and early dying (caused by both Verticillium, which is a fungus, and nematodes such as root lesion nematode) are diseases of potential impact on potato production in New Brunswick and elsewhere. More

UK: Blight options for potato growers to break EU-37 resistance

Potato growers and agronomists in Britain should be mindful of developing blight strains less sensitive to fluazinam, but selective use and active planning can effectively preserve the full benefit of Shirlan for tuber blight protection at the season end. Syngenta Technical Manager, Douglas Dyas, highlighted the blight zoospore control of Shirlan made it a crucial component of the programme, particularly at the end of the season. “However, with the reported increasing incidence of EU-37 (Dark Green 37) that has shown to be less sensitive to fluazinam, it is important growers and agronomists adapt blight programmes now to minimise the risk of further spread.” He advocated growers use alternative blight actives for foliar blight applications through to desiccation, alternate actives in the programme, or mix another active with the fluazinam treatments – such as cymoxonil or mancozeb, or better still both – particularly under high pressure situations.  Continue reading

Germany: Organic potatoes damaged by heavy rain and potato beetles

Especially in the Northern parts of Germany, the largest production area of organic potatoes nationwide, there were rainfalls of more than 100 liters per square meter two weeks ago, causing severe damage. At the same time, the potato beetle which is attacking weakened plants, is gaining ground. The very few organic remedies, such as the oil of the neem tree, are almost sold out. If the potato beetle is able to reproduce, it can devour several hectares within a short time period which will then not grow any further. As of now, the later varieties are still very small and need to grow for at least another three weeks before reaching marketable yields. Due to this development, the situation on the German potato market is changing fundamentally. More

Australia: Spud growers face ‘perfect storm’

Blackleg symptoms in a potato stem caused by Dickeya dianthicola.Potato growers in the region are bracing for a “perfect storm”, with farmers warned to be alert for signs of disease after a new bacteria was recently detected. The detection of dickeya dianthicola in a commercial crop north of Perth comes as local farmers try to adapt to newly deregulated markets and the loss of interstate exportation after another pest — the tomato potato psyllid — was detected in February. Jindong potato farmer Daryl Smith said the detection of new bacteria came at a difficult time for growers. “We have way too many spuds at the moment; the market is flooded,” he said. “Export has stopped because of fear we may have bacteria in our potatoes and now another potential blackleg disease, so it’s pretty tough. “I’m fairly sure there will be potatoes that just won’t be harvested.” More

Researchers develop low cost sensor to detect rot in potato storage facilities

In Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf. Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and industry partners Isaacs Hydropermutation Technologies, Inc (IHT) and Emerson to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time, to help with early detection of rot.  Continue reading

Embattled Western Australian potato growers face new bio-security threat after Dickeya found

A brown tub of potatoes covered in dirt, with the gloved hand of a worker resting on the tub.An aggressive bacteria that attacks potatoes has been found in Australia for the first time. Dickeya dianthicola can cause significant production losses in crops by causing diseases such as soft-rot or blackleg. The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development WA confirmed the bacteria’s presence in a seed potato crop north of Perth, which is now under quarantine. Another property in the south-west of the state is also suspected to have the bacteria. It is the second biosecurity blow for the WA potato industry in a matter of months, with the tomato potato psyllid (TPP) pest causing significant trade implications for the state. The detection of the new bacteria has not resulted in any further trade implications, with restrictions already in place for the movement of potatoes out of Western Australia and into other states and territories. News of the new biosecurity threat comes as Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan announced a $1.5 million recovery fund to explore market opportunities for growers affected by TPP trade restrictions. More

Potato beetle cannibalism may help protect crops

Colorado potato beetles can decimate spud crops by devouring the plants’ foliage. Researchers at the University of Maine (UMaine) have found cannibalism may slow down the devastation of Colorado potato beetles on potato crops. University of Maine scientists Everett Booth, Andrei Alyokhin and Sarah Pinatti observed that in a laboratory, Colorado potato beetles faced with starvation, crowding and no opportunity to disperse ate beetle eggs, young beetles, injured beetles and other adults, particularly those who had just molted and were soft. Alyokhin, an entomologist and director of the School of Biology and Ecology, said even when Colorado potato beetles were given a choice between other adult beetles and mealworms, they ate their own species. The cannibalistic behavior might decrease in fields, though, as beetles facing difficult circumstances could disperse, he says. During periods of limited food availability, Alyokhin said engaging in cannibalism is a “lifeboat strategy” — it prolongs survival and prevents population extinctions. More

University of Idaho reports light potato psyllid pressure

Potato psyllids, like the insect pictured above, can spread the Liberibacter bacterium that causes zebra chip disease in potatoes. Some Idaho farmers are saving a bit of money on insecticidal sprays due to light potato psyllid pressure. #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 Extension entomologist Erik Wenninger, who runs an extensive field monitoring program to gauge psyllid populations, said the first psyllid of this season was captured in late May — about the same timing as last season. However, a single psyllid, captured at UI’s Kimberly Research and Extension Center, has tested positive for Liberibacter this season. Wenninger said zebra chip was found in a few fields last season, but the incidence of the disease was relatively low, especially given the high psyllid densities. More

How to manage Colorado potato beetles that survived winter

Image result for colorado potato beetleSeveral different locations in the Red River Valley in the US are experiencing emerging Colorado potato beetles (CPB). Ian MacRae, professor and Extension entomologist at the University of Minnesota, visited a few fields where overwintered beetles are contentedly finding mates and munching young potato plants (some places more heavily than others). After last summer’s battles, many growers might not be happy to see the emergence of these striped harbingers of leafless plants so early in this year. Last year’s high populations and this winter’s mild temperatures have resulted in successful overwintering of lots of CPB in some areas. A couple of locations are also reporting less than satisfactory control from neonicotinoid insecticides applied at plant. MacRae offers some management points to ponder. More

UK: Hot potatoes under Alternaria attack

Heat stress under record seasonal high early summer temperatures could trigger increased risk of an initial Alternaria attack in potato crops. Plants suffering from lack of moisture could prove more susceptible to pathogen infection, whilst soil moisture deficit will inhibit the uptake of nutrients, which could further stress crops during rapid canopy growth. Research has shown that stress is a key factor in enabling initial infection of Alternaria alternata to take hold in plants. Affected crops are believed to be more susceptible to the later infection of more devastating A. solani strains of the pathogen, according to Syngenta Potato Technical Manager, Douglas Dyas.  “Successive years of Alternaria leaf tissue testing by NIAB has revealed the A. alternata strain to be the first to appear, typically starting in late June,” he reported. “But the current weather conditions could trigger earlier infection, particularly in susceptible varieties if they are under stress.”  Continue reading

Australia: New techniques catch potato pests on the hop on Kangaroo Island

Image result for aphid potatoSeed potato growers on Kangaroo Island are adopting a new strategy to manage the aphids and thrips pestering their crops, taking on expert advice from agronomists and entomologists to adopt integrated pest management for these insect pests. In January 2015, Kangaroo Island seed potato growers and agronomists invited Dr Paul Horne and Angelica Cameron from IPM Technologies to help them improve their pest management and control the most important pests of seed potato crops: the aphids and thrips that vector potato leafroll virus and tomato spotted wilt virus. Following a successful trial by several growers that achieved control of insect pests with only minimal use of soft selective insecticides, and no application of broad-spectrum products during the life of the crops, the technique spread in popularity among the island’s industry. In the 2016-17 season, the majority of the island’s seed potato growers implemented some form of IPM across their farms to some extent.  Continue reading

Colorado State University receives funding for Dickeya study

Image result for dickeya potatoIt was announced this week that Colorado State University will receive $264,600 in funding from USDA to study the spread of pathogens including Dickeya. Dr. Amy Charkowski, head of CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project. This grant is part of a $4.8 million investment from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study important challenges in U.S agriculture. The National Potato Council (NPC) submitted a letter in support of funding this project, which is necessary in fighting the spread of a pathogen which can cause significant crop loss. (Source: National Potato Council)

Oro Agri offers late blight solutions to potato growers

Potato BlightIn May ORO AGRI International sponsored the EuroBlight 2017 Workshop for the first time and presented a paper in the “Control Strategies” session chaired by Huub Schepers from Wageningen University and Research. The workshop, organized by EuroBlight, the potato late blight network in Europe, took place in Aarhus, Denmark. The main objective of the event was to present and discuss results on integrated control of late blight and early blight. Tim Buchheim, ORO AGRI Business Development and Technical Support Manager, highlighted how two of the company’s products could offer new possibilities in late blight control. “PREV-AM, our flagship product, is a multipurpose insecticide and fungicide containing the active substance orange oil,” explains Tim. “Our other key product is the adjuvant WETCIT which incorporates TransPhloem technology,” says Tim. More

Developing wireless sensor technologies to fight potato rot in storage facilities

Image result for potato storageIn Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf. Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and commercial industry partners to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time in storage facilities, to help with early detection of potato rot. The cloud-enabled sensor system will feature three-dimensional hot spot visualization and help predict on-coming rot or deteriorating quality of stored potatoes. Continue reading