Too much remains unknown about zebra chip disease to accurately predict if it will damage potatoes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington again this season, said research entomologist Joe Munyaneza.
But it's certain to affect growers in the three states economically regardless, Munyaneza, an Agricultural Research Service scientist from Wapato, Wash., said.
"Is it going to happen again this coming season? I'm not sure. The only thing I can foresee is many growers are going to treat (for zebra chip) anyway," he said. "If I were a grower, I would be worried. I would be ready."
It was Munyaneza who identified the potato psyllid as the insect vector of zebra chip, caused by the Liberibacter solanacearum bacteria. It leaves dark bands in spuds.
Munyaneza noted it's been a mild winter, and in December, psyllids were found overwintering in the Boise area. There's no evidence suggesting those psyllids harbored the harmful bacteria, or where the psyllids that spread zebra chip so far north have come from, he said.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press