While not a record-breaking winter, temperatures have been below normal over the past couple of months for many locations across the PNW.  That, said Washington State University’s Dr. Tim Waters, is good news, especially for row crop growers.


He noted the multiple days and sometimes weeks of below freezing temperatures likely will result in fewer voluntary potatoes once warmer spring weather gets here.  And that, Waters added, means a difficult spring for the Colorado Potato Beetle.


“When those potato beetles emerge in the field that they were last year, they're not going to find a host.  So they're not going to find potatoes in that field.  They'll then migrate into the current season production field, which would seem like it could be a problem, but since the potatoes that will be planted this year will be treated with an infero or a seed piece treatment insecticide, when they move into that field earlier than they would have if there are volunteers around, then they will be exposed to a toxic dose of an insecticide and most of that first generation will be killed by that.” 


When it comes to area onion crops, Waters says he does not expect the cold winter temperatures to impact thrips numbers, outside of the possibility that population build up may be slower than typical. 


“You know, insects they have some avoidance strategies where they dig into the ground, and stuff like, that to avoid extreme temperatures.  And they actually can change their metabolism of course which they slow their metabolism way down.  But they also have biochemistry that prevents them from freezing where they produce what's called ice nucleating agents and cryoprotectants which basically protects the cells and the insect from freezing.” 



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