There’s no doubt about it – that was a tough winter.
The mercury dove early and stubbornly stayed down for weeks on end. An optimist might think it could have knocked out a few potato pests. Unfortunately that’s unlikely.
Brent Elliot, an entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture says the habits of the Colorado potato beetle generally protect it from significant winterkill, and he suspects this year was no exception.
“Insects don’t think, but they’re pretty clever,” Elliot says. “They tend to overwinter in field margins and in longer grass, where there’s lots of snow and good insulation.”
Since there was early snow cover this season, Elliot says it’s likely the pests were adequately sheltered before that nasty weather hit.
The Other Options
For potato growers looking to rotate out of neonicotinoid products, there are a handful of options, both old and new.
First, there’s the older Group 3 pyrethroid chemistry – brands like Decis, Ripcord, Matador and Pounce, just to name a few. Colorado potato beetle have developed some level of resistance to them, but they still work well on some populations, and have a relatively low cost – about $5 to $10 an acre.
Then there are a handful of new products from new chemistry families that offer unique new modes of action. There’s Success 480 (Group 5, active ingredient spinosad), Coragen (Group 28, active ingredient chlorantraniliprole) and Rimon 10 EC (Group 15, active ingredient novaluron).
These products are lower-risk ones, which can also mean they’re not quite as effective. And they also come with a higher price tag – between $10 and $40 an acre.