FYI for the Northwest bee keepers operating in the vicinity of potato ground;
A new psyllid carrying a disease vector that is extremely hazardous to potatoes has shown up in Idaho/Washington/Oregon for the first time last year. All of this information is spotty and inconsistent at this time as everyone is just learning about it but I felt it pertinent enough to let you guys in on given the stake you have in agriculture.
What we know now;
They apparently moved in from Mexico to Texas and New Mexico spuds as early as 2002 and have been a problem there since.
No one seems to be sure if they will be back in force in the Northwest this year or not but many feel with the lean winter we have had that they will be.
When they pierce the plant the vector disease in their saliva translocates through the plant into the tuber and converts the starch to sugar. More often than not, as in the cases last year, the damage is done and not realized until the spuds are pulled from storage months later. This makes the potato taste bad and also makes them, in the case of potatoes grown for fries and chips, turn a dark brown color when immersed in the hot oil. Thus the slang term "Zebra Chip". This is being taken very seriously as it is most likely a COMPLETELY REJECTABLE ISSUE for the grower. That is they will be feeding them to the cows for a fraction of the price of a successful sale to a processor.
Application procedures; I have heard everything from a various grower not doing anything at all this next year at least to see what happens to larger processors growing under contract telling the growers to not even scout and just get on a spraying program. The program time frames I have heard so far have been from an every seven or ten day rotation to a more standard fungicide rotation of 14 days. I have heard of one chemigation program of pumping a product every 10 days for 80 days straight. Either way it looks as though they will be shanking in a neonicitoid at planting and then IF they are going to spray that would start about 30 days later on whatever rotation they come up with. Please keep in mind that ALL three methods of application will most likely be used; aerial, ground, and chemigation. So as to keep in mind the "seeing the yellow plane flying by doesn't necessarily make me guilty" from our past post.
If you notice spuds going in a field near a "regular" hive location I highly recommend finding the grower and fieldman and discussing what their personal program is going to be. Keeping in mind at least here in Idaho our bee law that states that insecticide can be sprayed on spuds ANY time of day or night, legally per exception 03. I will, as always, be trying to educate my local keepers an keep them advised of any of my applications BUT I can tell you all that IF this thing gets nuts no one will be thinking of bees, they will be focused on saving the crop. So keep that in mind when placing bees and do your best to get in the loop with fieldmen and growers especially if they are planning on a chemigation program.
400.RESTRICTIONS TO PROTECT POLLINATORS.
01. Bee Restrictions. Any pesticide that is toxic to bees shall not be applied to any agricultural crop
when such crop is in bloom or when bees are actively foraging on blooming weeds in the crop being sprayed except
during the period beginning three (3) hours before sunset until three (3) hours after sunrise. (3-30-01)
02. Green Pea Exception. In the counties of Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Idaho,
Kootenai, Latah, Lewis, Nez Perce, and Shoshone: Green (white) pea crops may be sprayed or dusted at any time.
03. Other Exceptions. Pesticides may be applied at any time to sweet corn for processing, hops,
potatoes, and beans other than lima beans, subject to all other applicable regulations. (3-20-97)
I hope this helps us all and I will try to post again later this spring as I find out more. Long live the bees!