Why should I monitor my potato crop for aphids?

Potato Virus Y (PVY) is a serious threat to high grade seed potato production because even low levels of PVY will downgrade seed. Not all aphid species transmit virus to your crop and those that do transmit do so with varying levels of efficiency. The peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae) is the most efficient virus vector. Some vector species will colonise potatoes however, many will simply move on as potatoes are not a suitable food source. By identifying the species of aphids arriving we can provide information on whether your crop is at risk from virus spread and colonisation. The information you receive through the aphid monitoring scheme can bring the following benefits:

Financial benefits

  • Help you to assess the risk of spread of PVY and take this into account when considering the best time to burn down your crop, thus maximising your yield without risking the virus health of the seed.
  • Help you in your decision making processes when considering the need for insecticide treatments. Some commercial growers have reported savings of £22 per hectare over two years by being able to reduce the number of aphicide treatments.
  • Enable you to provide your customers with a full record of your Integrated Pest Management methods and the potential risk of virus transmission. This builds confidence in your customers of the quality of your seed, enhancing the likelihood of repeat custom.
  • Provide you with information on the potential quality of home saved seed, thus giving you the opportunity to save the expense involved in buying-in classified seed potatoes.

Environmental benefits

The scheme is also good news for the environment. A switch to a more rational use of insecticides may;

  • Increase levels of natural predators.
  • Reduce the risk of aphid populations developing aphicide resistance.

Other Aphid Resources: SASA operates four suction traps collecting insects flying at a height of 12.2m above the ground to provide a standardized measure of regional aphid activity. The data are updated weekly for key species and assessments of regional risks of PVY transmission are provided using relative transmission efficiencies that are similar to those used by AHDB potatoes/Fera. Information on the Scottish Seed Potato Classification Scheme is also available here.