Today’s Topic: Sweet potato weevil survey

By on February 24, 2015

Todays-TopicAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

The NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division has launched an extensive survey in Brunswick and New Hanover counties for the sweet potato weevil, the most significant sweet potato pest in the world. The purpose is to gain a better understanding of the weevil and its presence in these counties. The long-term goal is to develop a program to eradicate the pest.

The sweet potato weevil is a significant threat to the state’s commercial sweet potato crop, which generates $198 million in farm cash receipts. North Carolina produces about 50 percent of the total U.S. crop.

The coastal areas of southern Brunswick and New Hanover counties are the only places in North Carolina where these weevils are found. Fortunately, the counties are not major areas for sweet potato production.

To prevent the weevils from spreading into parts of the state where sweet potatoes are produced, our department restricts the movement of regulated commodities such as sweet potato plants.

Green bucket traps were placed in the two counties earlier this year. They are baited to attract male weevils and also contain a contact insecticide to kill the trapped insects. The traps will help staff collect information on the basic biology of the weevil and its current distribution.

Staff will monitor the traps on a bi-weekly basis for the next two years and use the collected information to put together an integrated pest management program.

The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss this survey.

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