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Potato Pandemonium

October 27th, 2015

Potato Pandemonium

The insect spread disease zebra chip is ruining potato crops across the entire Northwest. The disease causes brown stripes to develop on infected potatoes. Unfortunately, these stripes are most obvious when the potato is fried, easily burning and leaving a bitter flavor to your French fries. Researchers have not yet been able to discover whether the psyllids carrying the disease are local or are coming from outside the region. This makes it difficult for farmers to tell when they will have a bad year with the zebra chip infecting their potatoes. They simply don’t know where these zebra chip carrying psyllids are coming from.

The USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative has decided to give a $2.7 million grant to researchers to help them discover where these psyllids are coming from. Researchers hope that if they discover that the psyllids carrying the disease are local, they can monitor the weeds they live in during the winter and track population increase. If the psyllids are from somewhere else, the researchers can monitor weather patterns and predict what kinds of conditions might bring the disease carrying bugs.

What kinds of conditions attract pests that ruin your crops? Are they local bugs or invaders?

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