Potato Council launches aphid monitoring campaign

Potato Council has launched its aphid monitoring campaign for this season to provide growers with the latest information on the activity of crop-damaging pests.

A network of 100 yellow water traps set up to monitor aphid movements across different parts of the country were live for this season.

Potato growers can be alerted when aphids are on the move in their area by signing up for free text and email alerts.

For detailed information, log on to the monitoring web site, hosted by FERA, via a link on the Potato Council’s website www.potato.org.uk.

The aphid traps have been set up earlier this year to give growers advance notice of which species are flying before significant crop emergence occurs.

Potato Council technical executive Drummond Todd said growers should have agreed their spray programmes with their agronomist or crop adviser.

“Once spray programmes have been triggered it is important to stick to them,” he added.

“A good programme will not only control colonising aphids but avoid selecting for insecticide resistance within aphid populations that may migrate to your area.”

Mr Todd said current spray programmes were most effective in controlling colonising aphids, such as the peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae.

But he warned that the arrival of large numbers of transient aphids from surrounding cereal crops could overwhelm spray programmes, particularly with the spread of non-persistent viruses like potato virus Y (PVY).

“It can’t be stressed enough that using high-quality seed and experienced roguing squads are the most effective strategies in early season virus control,” said Mr Todd.

“Even if aphids arrive in large numbers during the growing season, if there is no virus source there will be no threat.”

David Stormonth, technical manager for Interfarm UK Ltd, said aphids have not been deterred by the recent cold weather and, with warm weather returning, populations were building up in the field.

He urged growers to remain vigilant, monitor aphid populations in crops, and be prepared to treat once thresholds have been reached.

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