Wireworm-Tolerant Potatoes

Wireworm

Editor’s Note: Much of this information is from a story by Jan Suszkiw of the Agricultural Research Service that was published in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Wireworm feeding damage is easy to spot, says Rich Novy, a USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant geneticist seeking to shore up America’s $3.3 billion potato crop. The damage resembles a nail hole that has been punched into the spud, pitting its surface and making it less appealing for use in fresh-pack or processing markets.

Organophosphate- and carbamate-based insecticides are available for use against wireworms on potato, among the most commonly used being ethoprop (Mocap, Bayer CropScience). However, the continued registration of some of these insecticides is uncertain, says Novy, who is in ARS’s Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research Unit in Aberdeen, ID. Plus, the chemicals don’t always eliminate the slender, brownish-orange pests, which as larvae can survive beneath the soil for as long as five years before emerging as adult click beetles.

“That’s part of what makes them so problematic, they are able to just stay in the soil so long,” he says. “That’s why you can get a buildup of wireworms over time.”

South American Aid

Over the last several years, Novy, ARS plant pathologist Jonathan Whitworth, and former University of Idaho associate professor Juan Alvarez, who is now with DuPont, have looked for a solution to the problem in the form of genetic resistance. In particular, they’ve focused the attention on two wild relatives of cultivated potato obtained from Chile and Bolivia: Solanum berthaultii and S. etuberosum. Taking their cue from previous studies showing that the wild potatoes are resistant to Colorado potato beetles and green peach aphids, two disparate pests, the researchers decided to pit the plants against hungry wireworms as well.

To do this, the team crossed germplasm derived from the wild potatoes with a cultivated variety and then selected 15 top-performing plants from three generations of progeny. The researchers’ next step was to plant the progeny lines, called “breeding clones,” in wireworm-infested field plots in southern Idaho and compare the feeding damage they sustained to that of adjacent rows of susceptible Russet Burbank potatoes.

As the researchers had hoped, the resistant clones fared as well as — and sometimes better than — the insecticide-treated Russet Burbank potatoes. “Wireworms are really tough,” says Novy. “Even with chemicals, there isn’t complete control.”

Commercial Availability

At this time, the mechanism of resistance to wireworm has not been determined, but it may be related to glycoalkaloids. These naturally occurring chemical compounds in potato tubers are known to deter some insect pests. Total concentrations of glycoalkaloids in many of the resistant clones are at levels suitable for human consumption, which may open the door to their use in the development of wireworm-resistant commercial varieties.

Novy says they do have a clone, a long, typey Russet, that is derived from its wild relatives, but it hasn’t been tested to confirm that it has wireworm resistance. The potato is in the intermediate stages of development — if it is identified as being wireworm resistant and its agronomic characteristics make it acceptable for release as a variety, then that clone could be available to growers in five to six years. “I’m quite excited by this one clone,” he says. “It needs several more years of evaluations, but it looks promising.”

The team has submitted a paper on their research to the Journal of
Economic Entomology. Novy says that besides wireworm, they are working on resistance to other potato pests such as potato psyllid, to mitigate zebra chip disease, and nematodes, specifically potato cyst nematode and Columbia root-knot nematode, in collaboration with Chuck Brown of USDA-ARS at Prosser, WA.      

For more information on the potatoes used in this research, please turn the page

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Crop ProtectionAt Paramount Farming, Mating Disruption Pays Off
February 10, 2015
To say Brad Higbee is an expert in mating disruption, the use of pheromones to confuse target pests and reduce Read More
Crop ProtectionGrower Experienced In Biocontrols Says: Be Patient
February 4, 2015
The use of biocontrols in all aspects of agriculture is becoming more widespread. But incorporating biocontrols in a vegetable farming Read More
FruitsTake The Leap Of Faith, And Increase Your Ticket Price
February 28, 2015
A higher admission price helps to sets a level of expectation and helps offset the costs of running a successful agritainment operation. Read More
Apples & PearsCompany Responsible For First GMO Apples Is Sold
February 27, 2015
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the company behind the world's first non-browning apples, fetches $41 million. Read More
Stone FruitPeach Training Systems Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All
February 27, 2015
Although pedestrian, ladderless orchards are increasing in California, growers in Pennsylvania are opting for tall V-training systems. Read More
IrrigationNo Federal Water For California’s Central Valley Growers – Again
February 27, 2015
Skimpy snowpack leads Bureau of Reclamation to make unprecedented announcement that there will be a zero initial allocation for the second year in a row. Read More
Apples & PearsThe Recession That Keeps On Taking
February 27, 2015
We’re still seeing the aftermath of the Great Recession on consumers’ purchasing habits seven years later. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardSubmit Your Nomination For The 2015 Grower Achievement Award
February 27, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine's annual award is designed to recognize an innovative operation that represents the spirit of excellence. Read More
FruitsMaximize Produce Profits By Focusing On Soil Health
February 27, 2015
Cover crops are just one of the ways you can help boost your trees’ and vines’ performance and your bottom line. Read More
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Program
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
GrapesWashington Winegrape Industry Announces Honors
February 26, 2015
Awards included Grower of the Year, Industry Service, Lifetime Achievement, Restaurant of the Year and Posters. Read More
GrapesSonoma Agriculture Preservation Plan Unveiled
February 26, 2015
Winegrowers’ 100-year business plan is the first of its kind in agriculture. Read More
The Latest
FruitsTake The Leap Of Faith, And Increase Your Ticket Price
February 28, 2015
A higher admission price helps to sets a level of expectation and helps offset the costs of running a successful agritainment operation. Read More
Apples & PearsCompany Responsible For First GMO Apples Is Sold
February 27, 2015
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, the company behind the world's first non-browning apples, fetches $41 million. Read More
Stone FruitPeach Training Systems Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All
February 27, 2015
Although pedestrian, ladderless orchards are increasing in California, growers in Pennsylvania are opting for tall V-training systems. Read More
IrrigationNo Federal Water For California’s Central Valley Grower…
February 27, 2015
Skimpy snowpack leads Bureau of Reclamation to make unprecedented announcement that there will be a zero initial allocation for the second year in a row. Read More
Apples & PearsThe Recession That Keeps On Taking
February 27, 2015
We’re still seeing the aftermath of the Great Recession on consumers’ purchasing habits seven years later. Read More
Grower Achievement AwardSubmit Your Nomination For The 2015 Grower Achievement …
February 27, 2015
American Vegetable Grower magazine's annual award is designed to recognize an innovative operation that represents the spirit of excellence. Read More
FruitsMaximize Produce Profits By Focusing On Soil Health
February 27, 2015
Cover crops are just one of the ways you can help boost your trees’ and vines’ performance and your bottom line. Read More
FNV logo
CitrusPMA Announces Funding For Major Produce Marketing Progr…
February 26, 2015
The produce industry is getting into brand marketing in a big way. The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has announced the launch of a new promotional campaign - FNV - designed to take a page from the marketing strategies of big-money consumer brands like Nike and Apple. Read More
GrapesWashington Winegrape Industry Announces Honors
February 26, 2015
Awards included Grower of the Year, Industry Service, Lifetime Achievement, Restaurant of the Year and Posters. Read More
GrapesSonoma Agriculture Preservation Plan Unveiled
February 26, 2015
Winegrowers’ 100-year business plan is the first of its kind in agriculture. Read More
Apples & PearsNew Plant Growth Regulator Use Expanded
February 26, 2015
Ten more states grant registrations for Fine Americas’ new Kudos PGR. Read More
Apples & PearsFrom The Road: IFTA Conference Day 5
February 26, 2015
Carlson lecture highlights where IFTA has been and looks to the next generation to continue the legacy. Read More
FruitsHave Faith In Science – Which Means GMOs [Opinion…
February 25, 2015
When it comes to farming, sticking with established, commonly accepted science is the way to go. Read More
Apples & PearsFrom The Road: IFTA Conference Day 4
February 25, 2015
Creating fruiting walls with mechanical hedgers can help increase light interception in the canopy, say researchers and growers. Read More
PotatoesPotato Grower Black Gold Farms Aquires George Wood Farm…
February 25, 2015
The transaction includes all production and packing operations.   Read More
Stone FruitSouth Carolina Peach Grower Honored For Produce Innovat…
February 25, 2015
Chalmers R. Carr III receives the inaugural Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award for focusing on quality, accessibility, and demand. Read More
Food Safety“Dirty Dozen” List Authors Say Conventionally Grown Pro…
February 25, 2015
Sound science prevails and consumers are encouraged to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables. Read More
CitrusFDA, Federal Partners Develop New Method For Attributin…
February 25, 2015
Data was analyzed from nearly 1,000 outbreaks to assess which categories of foods were most responsible for making people sick. Read More