Home' Grower : May 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- May 2012
By PAUL WALKER,
TIA vegetable centre entomologist
THE control of whitefringed weevils in a
range of crops can be improved
through simple sampling methods.
These are used to determine pest popula-
tions and potentially form new research into
plant compounds that attract or repel the
White-fringed weevils (Naupactus leucolo-
ma) are the main pest that affects potato
crops in Tasmania. They also attack the
roots of crops such as poppies and carrots.
The lar vae (grubs) of the weevils feed on
potato roots and tubers in the ground, leav-
ing holes and scars.
The damaged tuber can then become
infected by other organisms.
Once established in a paddock, the white-
fringed weevils are very hard to remove as
they feed on a wide variety of plants and
An innovative research project aims to
increase grower awareness of the pest,
promote the use of paddock sampling
to determine weevil populations and
find alternative ways to detect and con-
trol them in the soil.
The project is led by Associate
Professor Geoff Allen and Dr Paul
Walker from the Tasmanian Institute of
Agriculture (TIA) in collaboration with
Central Science Laboratories at the
University of Tasmania and the Scottish
Crops Research Institute (Aberdeen).
It is supported by Horticulture
Australia Limited (HAL), using the
processed potato industry levy with
matched funds from the Australian
Paddock sampling simply involves
taking samples of soil with a spade from
random places across the paddock to
search for the weevil lar vae.
Sampling is best done before winter,
when lar vae are large and easy to see.
If high numbers of lar vae are found,
then consideration should be given to
either not planting potatoes, or using
an insecticide before planting.
If only low numbers are found, then
insecticides may not be required.
Recent research has shown that the
lar vae of other types of weevils can find
their way to their host plants by detect-
ing compounds released by the plants
Growers seek urgent
help from NSW govt
NEW SOUTH WALES seed potato growerswill seek
assistance from their state government because of the
catastrophic affect of heavy rain on crops.
Total income lost throughout the Crookwell district could
amount to as much as $3 million, with most expecting 50
per cent to 80pc loss of crop. Some plots and varieties
recorded a 100pc loss. Losses may increase, depending on
further rain from now until harvest.
Most crops were due for harvest in the next two or three
weeks, but because the heavy harvesting equipment could
not be used on the paddocks the potatoes will have to stay
in the ground. This means massive loss of income for
growers, and for contractors and workers laid off.
An emergency meeting of growers at the Crookwell
Services Club on Friday decided to seek disaster funding to
help the local industry through the crisis -- which could
have implications for the industry in future years.
The meeting was called by senior inspector -- regulatory
Central West Paul Anderson and regional director of
agriculture -- south eastern Anne Muir.
Growers pointed out that the potatoes now will stay in the
ground and succumb to skin discoloration, blemishes and
lesions making them unsaleable.
The problem for seed production extends beyond the
current season for many specialty varieties, which may
take ten years to develop a new researched variety from
tissue culture, tuber growth, planted and harvested asseed,
replanted and multiplied, to wholesale of No. 1 potatoes fit
for consumer tables.
The loss of income from a 20-acre seed lot to the grower
is $369,000 which includes all input costs from ground
preparation to the present state of growth.
But this multiplies to $3.6 million to the commercial
growers the seed farmers supply in one season.
Another major threat lies with the growers supplied with
seed from Crookwell losing the wholesale trade to Coles
and Woolworths, who may not come back to them if forced
to look elsewhere this year.
Spade becomes a crucial
weevil control weapon
Larvae of the weevils feed on pota-
to roots, tubers
Paddock sampling involves taking
samples from random places across
Farmers determine weevil popula-
tions, appropriate control
An innovative research project aims to increase grower awareness of the pest,
promote the use of paddock sampling to determine weevil populations and find
alternative ways to detect and control them in the soil.
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