Published online: Aug 16, 2011 Insecticide
Viewed 902 time(s)
Web Exclusive
Some Prince Edward Island potato growers are facing a serious infestation of wireworm and the only fix is about to be taken off the market.

Wireworm is a pest that spends four years in the ground, feeding on potatoes and other vegetables. Then it turns into a click beetle and moves onto other fields. Wireworm can decimate a crop.

Growers use a pesticide called Thimet to fight the bug, but next year the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency is phasing out the product.

"It's supposed to come off registration next year. It's a class of chemicals they're phasing out," said Gary Linkletter, chair of the P.E.I. Potato Board. "And there's no replacement for it is the problem. So if Thimet goes, we have no replacement. There'll be a number of growers who will probably go out of business over it and certainly crop insurance claims will go through the roof."

Linkletter is relieved wireworm hasn't been a problem in his potatoes yet. But he estimates close to 20 percent of Island growers-many of them surrounding the Charlottetown area-are fighting the pest.

"Click beetles-they say if you find a thousand in a trap, it's a bad infestation. We're finding up to 5,000 in some P.E.I. traps, so it's pretty severe," said Linkletter.

The potato board wants the de-registering put off until another option can be found. And they want government to help fund more science.