The Washington State Potato Commission has launched a new tool to help farmers throughout the Northwest track beneficial and harmful insects.

The commission last week put an insect and mite management tool on its website. Commission Director of Research Andy Jensen said the tool provides background on the management of insect and mite pests in potatoes, as well as diseases and beneficial organisms.

The website — www.potatoes.com — includes a mapping system of a regional insect trapping program with information about the numbers of insects collected. Insects include the beet leafhopper, aphids and potato tuberworm.

"The map interface gives people the opportunity to see where and how many we're catching of those insects," Jensen said.

The tool currently covers the Columbia Basin in Washington, but Jensen said plans are to extend it to cover Oregon and parts of Idaho.

Growers can use the site as a basic education tool about identifying pests and beneficial organisms in their fields, Jensen said. The population reports give them a feel for what's occurring in the region and whether they should be looking for those pests in their fields.

The tool is part of a project using a $2.05 million grant Washington State University entomologist Bill Snyder received from the USDA in 2009 to help Northwest potato farmers reduce the use of pesticides.

-- Matthew Weaver

Online

Washington Potato Commission:

www.potatoes.com/IPM-Home.cfm

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