Farmers hit with aster yellows in 2012 aren’t likely to soon forget the devastation high infection rates can cause. The trickiest aspect of the disease is how futile it is to try and control it. The phytoplasma, carried on the aster leafhopper, is passed quickly from insect to plant and then the insect moves on. While we’re learning about where the disease overwinters (perennials, if you’re curious), western Canadian farmers’ crops are left to the whim of the southern winds that bring up the leafhoppers.
Scott Meers, insect management specialist for Alberta Agriculture, spoke about the disease and its outbreak during a presentation at Farm Tech 2013. Lyndsey Smith caught up with him after to ask him what farmers could expect for the coming year, and why spraying for the leafhopper is a waste of chemical.
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