Potato Pest Control

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Potato Pest Control

During the past several years, many new insecticides have been labeled for use on white potatoes that have been useful tools in a potato pest management program.

These materials have new chemistries, different modes of action, and are extremely active against the various insect pests of white potatoes. However, these insecticides must be used wisely to ensure maximum benefit of the application as well as to reduce the potential of insecticide resistance to these materials by the targeted insect pest.

Controlling Wireworms

Mocap (ethoprop, Bayer CropScience) is still the only material labeled as a preplant insecticide for wireworms (broadcase just before planting). Brigade and Capture (bifenthrin, FMC Corp.), Mocap, Regent (fipronil, BASF), and Thimet (phorate, Amvac Chemical Corp.) are labeled for planting applications. Only bifrenthrin, however, is labeled for application after planting (lay-by or foliar applications).

Wireworms are one of the most difficult insect pests to control, and results of wireworm efficacy trials over the past several years have been inconsistent. However, all of the labeled materials have shown that they can be effective against wireworms. In addition, Admire (imidacloprid, Bayer CropScience) and Platinum (thiamethoxam, Syngenta Crop Protection) applied to the soil at planting time for other pests, such as potato beetles and leafhoppers, have also provided control of wireworms even though not specifically labeled for this pest.

Managing Foliar Damage

Several important potato insect pests cause damage after the plants emerge. The most important of these pests are Colorado potato beetles and potato leafhoppers, and the less important pests include potato flea beetles and aphids (green peach and potato aphids).

Both seed-piece treatments and at-plant applications are very effective and economical application methods for control of these pests. Cruiser (thiamethoxam, Syngenta Crop Protection) and Gaucho (imidacloprid, Bayer CropScience) are both labeled as seed treatments, and Admire, Platinum, and Venom (dinotefuran, Valent U.S.A. Corp.) are labeled as at-plant applications. In recent research trials conducted in New Jersey in 2008, both Admire and Platinum were equally effective in controlling Colorado potato beetle as well as potato leafhopper.

Of important news is that currently many insecticides of different classes are labeled for foliar applications, which means growers can select materials having different modes of action for use in a rotational scheme for pesticide resistance management. If an at-plant insecticide is not used, a wide selection of foliar materials is available which, when used properly, will allow effective management of the potato beetle without increasing resistance problems.

Added to this are several newly registered insecticides for white potatoes, including Coragen (chlorantraniliprole, DuPont Crop Protection), Brigadier (bifenthrin and imidacloprid, FMC Corp.), Endigo (thiamethoxam and lambda-cyhalothrin, Syngenta Crop Protection), Radiant SC (spinetoram, Dow AgroSciences), Leverage (imidacloprid and cyfluthrin, Bayer CropScience), and Voliam Flexi (chlorantraniliprole and thiamethoxam, Syngenta Crop Protection). Many of these insecticides, such as Coragen, Endigo, Warrior II (lambda cyhalothrin, Syngenta Crop Protection), and Voliam Flexi, also will control European corn borer.

In addition to those insect controls, others have been added for growers to use. Those products include Voliam Xpress (chlorantraniliprole, Syngenta Crop Protection), and Belay (clothianidin, Valent USA), now labeled as a seed-piece application, foliar, or chemigation for several pests, including flea beetle, potato beetle, aphids, and leafhoppers.

The present and future look promising for potato growers as well as growers of other vegetables, with new chemistry insecticides having novel modes of
action that have low, non-target toxicities as well as low or negligible impact on the environment. Many combinations of insecticides are rapidly becoming labeled, combining multiple mode-of-actions as well as increasing the range of pests being controlled. These exciting new products are already available to growers, and will be excellent tools for their pest management and insecticide resistance management programs.

Ghidiu is an entomologist at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Bridgeton, NJ.

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