HERMISTON, Ore. -- Potato growers may be able to reduce beet leaf hopper sprays without losing yield, according to findings from the first year of a three-year study.

Oregon State University Extension entomologist Silvia Rondon found early season sprays were effective at reducing yield loss to purple top virus -- the disease transmitted by leaf hoppers. Later in a season, however, the trials showed, potatoes were able to withstand feeding damage and viral transmissions without treatments.

Rondon said she has more work to do before recommending growers cut back on sprays to control the pest. But early results indicate growers may be able to cut their beet leaf hopper treatments in half.

Rondon will present her findings to growers at the Hermiston Farm Fair, scheduled Dec. 2 to 4 at the Hermiston Conference Center, 415 S. Highway 395.

Rondon also is scheduled to talk about a relatively new wheat pest at the fair's Columbia Basin Cereal Seminar.

The wheat head army worm currently is not considered an economically damaging pest, but like all army worms, populations could explode suddenly, she said.

"It potentially could be a big pest," Rondon said.

The 36th annual Hermiston Farm Fair includes a banquet in addition to seminars, pesticide education programs and displays from agriculture businesses.

-- Mitch Lies

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