The pest has the potential to decimate the potato industry in the country, so a project to identify how to manage the problem will see growers given access to information and options for managing it.
An effective insecticide programme will be developed for potato production, which will include minimising unnecessary spray applications.
A cost-effective, quick system for determining the health status of plants will also be developed to allow the potato seed industry to ensure they are providing growers with disease-free material and assist greenhouse growers in making decisions on plant extraction when symptoms of the pest are observed.
Key to the success of the project will be the collaboration of the horticulture industry, with support from government. The MAF Sustainable Farming Fund contributed over half the cash value of the project with a grant of $600,000.
The research is funded by Potatoes NZ, Fresh Tomato Product Group, Fresh Vegetable, the NZ Tamarillo Association, McCains, Talley's, Bluebird and Mr Chips. Heinz-Watties is also supporting the initiative and it is anticipated that many agri-chemical companies will support the research too.
The psyllid was first discovered in New Zealand in 2006 in tomato crops. In the last few seasons it has migrated to capsicum, tamarillo and potato crops (both members of the same plant family), causing lower yields.