Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category


Silver scurf, caused by a fungus, is a common potato disease and found in all major production areas of the U.S., including the Red River Valley of western Minnesota and northeast North Dakota.(Photo by Andrew Robinson)

Silver scurf: Great name, but bad for spuds

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Fans of colorful, alliterative language may like “silver scurf.” Not Red River Valley potato growers; they see the crop disease as a growing threat.

“I’m getting more questions about it at harvest,” said Andy Robinson, Fargo, N.D.-based potato extension agronomist for both North Dakota State University and the University of Minnesota.

 He helped to organize potato educational sessions during the recent International Crop Expo in Grand Forks, N.D., and brought in Amanda Gevens to speak on the crop disease on Feb. 22.Gevens, a professor in the plant pathology department at the University of Wisconsin, also is seeing more cases of silver scurf. She described the disease “as gray, silver and shiny patches” that are “more obvious on red and purples,” but seen on yellow and russet potatoes, too.

Silver scurf, caused by a fungus, is a common potato disease and found in all major production areas of the United States, including the Red River Valley of western Minnesota and northeast North Dakota.

 The disease, specific to potato tubers, causes blemishes on spuds. Though the effect is mostly cosmetic, some potatoes affected by the disease have been rejected by industry buyers. Efforts to combat silver scurf are complicated by its close resemblance to black dot, another crop disease. Even Gevens can have trouble distinguishing the two diseases on affected potatoes.


“Whodunnit? Is it a silver scurf problem? Or is it a black dot problem,” she said. “It’s hard to tell these apart. Sometimes you can’t tell them apart.”

One important difference: silver scurf is tied to infected seed, while black dot is more of a soil/field debris issue, Gevens said.

 No commercial cultivars resistant to silver scurf are available yet, though work to develop them is underway.

Use of uninfected seed, which can be hard to get, helps to control the disease, as does early harvest and chemical use,

Storage conditions also influence the extent of silver scurf in affected potatoes. “High humidity in storage encourages it,” Gevens said.

Research also shows that smaller storage volumes help to control core temperatures and hold down silver scurf. But limiting storage volumes may not always be feasible, she said.

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From PestNetfresh fruit logoffp



Chile: Medfly outbreak in Valparaiso region

March 13 , 2018

An outbreak of Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) has been discovered in Chile’s Valparaiso region, in a rural area of a commune that lies to the north of the capital Santiago.

Eight insects were found in traps in the commune of Los Andes, and authorities have now established a 7.2-kilometer control area. Additional traps have also been placed and contingency plans have been implemented.

There have been numerous Medfly detections in recent months, with authorities finding an insect in the eastern Santiago suburbof Las Condes in December, and the following month finding 16 Medflies in San Bernardo to the capital’s southwest.

The Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG) said the recent detections had been made thanks to the surveillance network present throughout Chile.

“There was an opportune detection, thanks to the trapping system that the institution has throughout the country and thanks to our personnel who acted quickly,” SAG national director Angel Sartori said.

“To control and eradicate this outbreak we ask for collaboration from the people in facilitating the entry of inspectors into their homes to carry out the necessary treatments for these cases.

“In addition, we reiterate that people who travel outside of the country must not enter Chile with products that are not authorized by SAG, as they can put our agriculture at risk.”

The Medfly is one of the most damaging agricultural pests in the world, attacking more than 250 species of fruit and vegetables.




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Kansas State University Researchers Make Breakthrough Toward Understanding Glyphosate Resistance in Pigweeds

 Article ID: 690983

Released: 12-Mar-2018 6:05 PM EDT

  • Credit: Kansas State University

  • Kansas State University researchers have discovered the mechanism by which weeds develop resistance to glyphosate, an herbicide. Their work could lead to improved weed control strategies and improved production in farm fields and other areas where weeds affect plants and crops. Pictured, left to right, are Mithila Jugulam, Dal-Hoe Koo, Bernd Friebe and Bikram Gill.

Newswise — MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State University researchers have discovered how weeds develop resistance to the popular herbicide glyphosate, a finding that could have broad future implications in agriculture and many other industries.

Their work is detailed in an article that appears in the March 12 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, known as PNAS and considered to be one of the most-cited journals for scientific research in the world. According to its website, PNAS receives more than 21 million hits per month.

“Herbicide resistance in weeds has been a huge problem, not only in Kansas and the U.S. but many parts of the world,” said Mithila Jugulam, a K-State weed scientist and co-author of the PNAS article.

“What we found that was new was how these weeds have evolved resistance to glyphosate in such a short time. If you look at the evolution of glyphosate resistance in Palmer amaranth, based on our research, it appears to have occurred very rapidly.”

Palmer amaranth and common waterhemp are the two troublesome pigweeds in Kansas agricultural fields, as well as other parts of the United States. Glyphosate – the key ingredient in the popular Roundup brand – is the herbicide that is widely used for controlling many weeds. But Jugulam notes that glyphosate resistance is becoming more prevalent in many states.

“We found that glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth plants carry the glyphosate target gene in hundreds of copies,” Jugulam said. “Therefore, even if you applied an amount much higher than the recommended dose of glyphosate, the plants would not be killed.”

Bikram Gill, director of Kansas State University’s Wheat Genetics Resource Center who has worked in plant genetics for nearly 50 years, said the researchers knew pretty quickly that the genetic makeup of resistant weeds was different.

“Normally, the genetic material in all organisms – including humans – is found in long, linear DNA molecules, called chromosomes,” said Gill, another co-author of the study. “But when (K-State researchers) Dal-Hoe Koo and Bernd Friebe, the chromosome experts on the team, looked at these glyphosate-resistant weeds, the glyphosate target gene, along with other genes actually escaped from the chromosomes and formed a separate, self-replicating circular DNA structure.”

Scientists refer to this structure as extra-chromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA). Each eccDNA has one copy of the gene that produces an enzyme that is the target for glyphosate.

“Because of the presence of hundreds of eccDNAs in each cell, the amount of the enzyme is also abundant,” Gill said. “Therefore, the plant is not affected by glyphosate application and the weed is resistant to the herbicide.”

Gill said the indications are that once a weed has acquired eccDNA, the resistance may evolve as quickly as in one generation.

“We think that the resistance via eccDNA is transitory: It can be passed to the weed’s offspring and other related weed species,” he said. “We have somehow caught it in between becoming permanently resistant. Eventually, we think that these eccDNAs can be incorporated into the linear chromosome. If that happens, then they will become resistant forever.”

The same K-State group recently published research on common waterhemp in the scientific journal, Plant Physiology, reporting that “a portion of the linear chromosome containing the target gene broke to form a ring chromosome carrying several copies of the glyphosate target gene,” according to Jugulam.

Armed with their new knowledge, the researchers can begin work on developing strategies to negate resistance in weeds.

“It’s been known that these circular DNA/chromosomal structures can be unstable,” Jugulam said. “What we want to explore is, for example, if we do not apply glyphosate repeatedly or reduce the selection by glyphosate, can we make these ring-structured chromosomes unstable and once again make these plants susceptible to glyphosate.”

The research team notes that farmers should incorporate best management strategies – such as rotating herbicides and crops – to reduce weed pressure: “This may allow evolving resistance to dissipate as we know that these eccDNAs and ring chromosomes are unstable and can be lost in the absence of herbicide selection pressure,” Jugulam said.

“Glyphosate has a lot of good characteristics as an herbicide molecule,” she added. “The recommendations that K-State and many others are promoting is ‘do not abuse glyphosate.’ Use the recommended integrated weed management strategies so that we do not lose the option of using glyphosate for the sustainability of our agriculture.”

Funding for this research was provided in part by grants from the Kansas Wheat Commission; the Kansas Crop Improvement Association; a National Science Foundation grant received through the Wheat Genetics Resource Center; the K-State Department of Agronomy (College of Agriculture); and USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. Kansas State University worked in collaboration with researchers at Clemson University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (Mississippi) and Michigan State University.

The full article can be accessed on the website for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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logo-feed-the-future 1Faw RISK aS REPT Cover

Partnering to Combat Fall Armyworm in Africa

The Fall Armyworm is an invasive crop pest that is rapidly spreading across Africa, threatening maize harvests in particular, and food security more broadly.

The good news is, we largely know how to solve this issue. The Americas have successfully controlled the pest and have a lot of know-how and experiences to share. By working together, we can help Africa tackle this challenge and build resilience to manage future agricultural threats.

Governments, businesses, civil society, the research community, and foundations must work together to assist Africans in combatting Fall Armyworm. To effectively manage this food security threat, we need to help African countries and farmers respond rapidly and prevent major damage before it greatly affects the world’s food supply and exacerbates global poverty and hunger.

Learn more about this crop pest, why it’s a problem, and what we’re doing about it in this fact sheet.

Fall Armyworm Facts:

  • In Africa, the Fall Armyworm’s presence is confirmed in 28 countries and suspected in 9 additional countries (FAO, December 2017).
  • The Fall Armyworm feeds on over 80 different crops including maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane (CABI, September 2017).
  • It could cause losses of 8.3 million to 20.6 million metric tons of maize in 12 African countries annually (CABI, September 2017), which could feed 40.8 million to 101 million people.

Be a Part of the Solution

Fall Armyworm Tech Prize: Feed the Future and its partners will be looking for digital solutions that help identify and provide actionable information on how to treat the Fall Armyworm in Africa, considering countries’ policies and laws, as well as cultural context. We have two ways for you to get involved in supporting solutions that empower smallholder farmers to effectively manage the threat of Fall Armyworm.

  • Have a relevant innovation that could help? Click here to learn more about submitting your solution. We encourage innovators from around the world to apply!
  • Interested in supporting this effort? We are also seeking partners interested in providing financial, technical and other in-kind support. Email fallarmyworm@usaid.gov to connect with us.

Fall Armyworm Guidance and Related Resources

Fall Armyworm in Africa: A Guide for Integrated Pest Management (First Edition)

In collaboration with international and national research and development partners, Feed the Future developed this Fall Armyworm Technical Guide to share the latest protocols related to integrated pest management to control this pest. We intend to revise and release subsequent editions of this Technical Manual as more evidence emerges on effective management of Fall Armyworm.

Fact Sheet: Combatting Fall Armyworm

Feed the Future strengthens the capacity of African communities, institutions and governments to manage the Fall Armyworm through a range of sustainable and effective integrated pest management strategies that protect people and the environment. Learn more in this fact sheet.

Press Release: USAID Administrator Green Announces Call to Action, New Private Sector Partnerships

In a keynote address at the annual World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa, United States Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green announced a call to action to combat the Fall Armyworm. Check out this press release to learn more.

Map of Areas affected by Fall Armyworm

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, December 2017.

Plant Protection EBA Data in Action Technical Brief

This brief, authored by the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security project, offers timely considerations for mitigating and addressing Fall Armyworm in Africa in the near and long term.

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Australia: Impregnable barrier to fruit fly

  • Thousands of sterile Queensland fruit flies released over Adelaide to limit fruit fly reproduction.
  • Trialling the deployment of flies from a plane, ahead of further releases.
  • Part of a $45 million program to help manage Queensland fruit fly.

Hundreds of thousands of sterile fruit flies will drop from the sky over the Adelaide region today kicking off a bold plan to reduce the numbers of an endemic pest.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said the sterile flies would reduce Queensland fruit fly (Qfly) numbers because the flies they mate with will not be able to reproduce.

“The new sterile insect technology (SIT) could be a game changer for Australian horticulture,” Minister Littleproud said.

“Less fruit flies equals more fruit with less pesticide, great crops and profits for farmers.

“More profit for farmers means they spend more money in town which creates more regional jobs.

“While SIT has been effective in California and Guatemala, this project is breaking new ground with some of Australia’s leading fruit fly experts on board.

“This trial is the first step in the process, trialling the equipment used to deploy the flies from a plane, following the extensive baiting and trapping to ensure its effectiveness.

“A release of two million male sterile fruit flies is planned for April to combat recent incursions in South Australia.

“Sustainable management of Qfly is vital to Australia’s $10.3 billion horticultural sector—this pest costs the horticultural sector $300 million each year in lost markets.”

It’s hoped Hort Innovation can commercialise production and delivery of sterile male Qfly.

The Coalition Government’s Rural R&D for Profit project provided $2.35 million for a project led by the CSIRO to create optimal conditions for SIT fly releases. The aerial offensive was part of SITPlus—a $45 million research and development partnership set to transform Qfly management in Australia

For more information:
Parliament Office​
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: +61 2 6277 2276
Fax: +61 2 6277 8493
Website: www.australia.gov.au

Publication date: 3/5/2018

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Faw RISK aS REPT Cover

The document, ‘Pest Risk Assessment of the Fall Armyworm in Egypt’ has just been released by the Feed the Future Integrated Pest Management Lab at VA Tech. The document provides information on the following subjects:

FAW identification



Mortality and dispersal

Spread and establishment

Risk to other countries

Economic impact

Development of a management plan for the FAW in Egypt

The document can be accessed on the IPM IL website at:


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CABI launches invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool6 March 2018 – CABI has announced the launch of its invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool (beta), a decision support aid to help users identify potential invasive species threats to a country, state or province. The tool is supported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Gareth Richards, CABI’s Compendium Programme Manager, said, “Risk assessors, plant protection officers, quarantine officers, protected area managers and researchers will find that the invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool provides a quick and user-friendly means of accessing a large volume of relevant data for categorizing and prioritizing potential invasive species.”

Information from the CABI Compendia datasheets is used to generate a list of invasive species that are absent from the selected ‘area at risk’ but present in ‘source areas’, which may be relevant because they are neighbouring countries, are linked by trade or transport routes, or share similar climates. The list of invasive species can be filtered using various criteria (e.g. pathways, habitats and taxonomy) to focus on sets of potential invasive species that may require more detailed risk assessment, surveillance, public awareness or direct action to prevent their introduction and spread.

Gareth continued “there are two versions of the invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool available; a free version for users of the open-access Invasive Species Compendium and a premium version for subscribers to CABI’s Crop Protection Compendium. The free version is immediately accessible via the link www.cabi.org/isc. The tool currently has open beta status for early use while enhancements to the content and interface continue. We look forward to receiving feedback from the users and to further developments during 2018.”

The Horizon Scanning Tool links to corresponding invasive species datasheets. Where a full datasheet is available, information is provided on detection and identification, means of entry, requirements for establishment and spread, and documented negative impacts (required for horizon scanning), and also methods for prevention and control (for response planning). The list can be output to a CSV file for analysis outside the Compendium.

All users can access the filters (for pathways, habitats and taxonomic group), view the full species results list, output a CSV file of the results, and open the Invasive Species Compendium datasheets to access further information. The premium version provides two extra filters (for plant hosts and for plant parts in trade) and links to additional pest datasheets from the Crop Protection Compendium.



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