Even before planting spuds, scout for potato psyllid

03/27/2013 09:43:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

potato psyllid trapArash Rashed, Texas AgriLife ResearchPost-doctoral researcher Arash Rashed is using yellow sticky traps to monitor psyllid populations throughout the year.Even though it may be up to a month before potato planting, Texas A&M University experts suggest that you begin scouting for potato psyllid.

The recommendation doesn't include just commercial potato growers but also home gardeners, according to a news release.

Arash Rashed, an AgriLife Research post-doctoral researchers, and Charlie Rush, an AgriLife Research plant pathologist in Amarillo, are monitoring year-round potato psyllid populations across the state.

Potato psyllids are a pest on two fronts.

They weaken potato and related plants just by feeding on them. But they also carry the bacteria responsible for zebra chip.

The zebra chip organism affects the way potatoes store sugar and starches. When the potatoes are cooked, such as during frying, the sugar caramelizes, creating dark brown streaks.

Although the streaks are harmless, they render the chips unmarketable.

Rashed is monitoring the year-round acitivies of potato psyllid to try to determine whether local populations overwinter on wild plants or migrate annually into the area or a combination of both.

After a year of studies, Rashed said he has trapped psyllids someplace almost every collection in northern Texas, even during snowy winter months.

This, combined with recent discoveries of overwintering populations in Idaho, shnow the insect possily overwinters locally.

As a result, he and Rush are commend that everybody involved in growing potatoes start scouting for potato psyllids.

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