Disease Found That Could Devastate Potato Crops
Kimberly, Idaho (KMVT-TV) Idaho researchers have recently found a disease that could devastate Magic Valley potato crops.
It's a disease that's never been found in Idaho until late last year.
For the first time in history, Idaho potato farmers could soon have to deal with a new disease.
"There's an insect called a potato psyllid and it carries a bacterium that causes a disease in potatoes called Zebra Chip," said Erik Wenninger, University of Idaho Professor.
Potato psyllids have been in the Northwest for decades, but have never been known to carry the disease until recently.
"In I think September 2011 we found this Zebra Chip disease in potatoes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington," said Wenninger.
In the past, the disease has primarily impacted potato crops in Texas.
It causes discoloration in the potatoes that becomes a lot more pronounced when they're fried.
Plus, it gives the chips or fires a burnt taste.
Fortunately it is treatable.
"There are a number of different insecticides available that range in price. So, there are a lot of different options for growers," said Wenninger.
But, it could get costly.
"Potato psyllids seem to be coming in about mid–June and once they show up they're going to be around more or less until harvest," said Wenninger.
This season, researchers have found psyllids carrying the disease on two magic valley farms and the farm at the Kimberly Research and Extension Center.
It's a different story in Washington and Oregon.
"Idaho has the dubious distinction of being the first location to actually find psyllids that are carrying the bacterium," said Wenninger.
Only time will tell, what the outcome will be.
Wenninger and his team will continue to monitor the situation here in Idaho.
He hopes to have a list of insecticide options for farmers by the end of the season.