Ongoing studies at the University of Idaho’s Aberdeen Research & Extension Center seek to help seed potato growers avoid a chronically troublesome disease spread by aphids, called potato virus Y, writes John O’Connell in the Idaho State Journal.
He writes one UI research project aims to better understand the importance of when aphid migrations occur and how that correlates with the severity of disease transmission.
Another project will attempt to establish a connection between the temperature and aphid migrations. A third project is studying how covering the space between potato rows with straw mulch or spraying foliage with mineral oil may deter aphids from probing spud plants. UI potato breeders are also involved in the effort of developing new potato varieties with resistance to PVY strains.
“For some reason we’re just not able to nail that coffin (on PVY), and it’s been a chronic problem for decades, but more recently, it’s been a struggle across the country,” said Kasia Duellman, UI Extension seed potato specialist.
Duellman explained another disease spread by aphids, called potato leafroll virus, used to be a significant problem in the state, but it’s since been effectively controlled with insecticides. Unlike leafroll, which is spread by colonizing aphids, PVY is spread by migratory aphids that may feed on a plant while passing through, making it tougher to prevent transmission with insecticides.