Back to Focus on Potato

Aphid Management in Potatoes

By Juan Manuel Alvarez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Entomology
University of Idaho
Phone: 208-397- 4181

Watch Presentation (38 min 39 sec)

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This presentation will help consultants, growers, and other practitioners in the United States to develop a better understanding about aphids, which are considered major potato pests in the U.S. Aphids cause direct damage to potatoes by feeding on the phloem of the plant and occasionally high densities can kill plants. More importantly, aphids transmit viruses that cause serious diseases on potato plants that reduce the yield and quality of potatoes. This presentation introduces concepts that help identifying the most important potato colonizing and non-colonizing aphid species in several parts of the U.S. The information presented on the management of aphids includes cultural, biological and chemical control methods. Managing aphids successfully, using any method, depends on being able to reliably monitoring aphid populations in the field. The presentation includes recommendations on how to scout for aphids.

This presentation also includes brief explanations about the two most economically important viruses that affect potatoes, the potato leafroll virus, PLRV and the potato virus Y, PVY. Understanding how aphids transmit the two viruses is critical in the management of this pest to prevent virus infections.

Even the most intense aphid control may not prevent spread of viruses unless measures are also taken to keep virus-source plants at a minimum. Information is presented about an omnipresent weed plant in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. that is in the same family as the potato, the hairy nightshade, which is not only a preferred host for potato colonizing aphids but also an additional inoculum source for PLRV and PVY. Research in Idaho has demonstrated that hairy nightshade might play a major role in the epidemiology of potato viruses. The presentation includes a section on this important weed plant that is currently present in many potato-growing regions of the US.

Since at this time most of the aphid management in potatoes is done with insecticides, the final part of the presentation is dedicated to chemical control and includes recommended chemistries that not only kill the aphids but also prevent virus transmission. To obtain specific recommendations on insecticide compounds, formulations, or rates, viewers will need to refer to the product labels. Finally, the recommendations presented here are not to be used exclusively; the agricultural clientele mentioned above should adapt them to their own needs and improve upon them while incorporating their own experience and creativity.

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