The University of Idaho received a $109,000 grant this fall from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help monitor potato fields for psyllids.
The grant also will help fund research led by Nora Olsen, director of the Potato Storage Research Facility, Kimberly, about how zebra chip affects tubers in storage.
Knowing University of Idaho researchers as he does, Gary Garnand, owner of Garnand Marketing LLC, Twin Falls, Idaho, said he’s confident of their ability to find solutions.
“They’re on it like a wet blanket,” Garnand said. “They will find a way of helping slow this down or stopping it.”
Despite the isolated psyllid and disease incidence, the Idaho potato industry is taking the threat seriously, said Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission.
“Zebra chip is a big challenge, and we’re working with the University of Idaho to try to determine the best way to control it,” he said. “We’ve tried to be ahead of this because we saw it come into Texas and the Southwestern states. We knew there was a chance that the critters would find their way up here, and they did.”
As a result of zebra chip, the South Korean government has banned the import of tablestock potatoes from the Pacific Northwest. Fresh potatoes shipped for processing have beek approved again.
The tablestock ban has a minimal effect on Idaho, since the state had just begun shipping fresh potatoes to South Korea after being out of that market for some time, Muir said.
Nevertheless, he said Idaho is working with Washington and Oregon to help the South Korean government understand the steps the states are taking to prevent the spread of zebra chip.