Evaluation and implications of Andean potato weevil infestation sources for its management in the Andean region
The Andean potato weevil Premnotrypes suturicallus Kuschel (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is one of the most damaging potato (Solanum spp.) pests in the Andes. The objective of this study was to get a better understanding of weevil infestation sources and its distribution in potato fields as well as on the effect of potato cropping intensity and farmers’ harvest practices on weevil infestation to provide better clues for its management. For this purpose, a methodology was developed to assess weevil field densities in potato. A Taylor’s power law indicated that 177 and 69 samples are necessary to assess low (0.5 weevils/m2) and high (5 weevils/m2) weevil densities for a moderate reliability or precision level (D = 0.5). In potato fields, overwintering weevil densities were highest at field borders with 3.5 weevils/m2 at a distance of <2.5 m compared to 0.7 weevils/m2 at distances >10 m from the field border. No effects of time of harvest could be detected on soil overwintering weevil densities. The quantification of the larval density per potato plant after harvest showed that fields after 2‐year potato rotations had eight times more overwintering weevils compared to 1‐year rotations. Weevil infestation sources were mainly potato fields with the highest infestation (89%) followed by olluco (Ullucus tuberosus) and oat (Avena sativa) fields having volunteer potato plants (35%). The results confirm and support previous assumptions about the importance of the cropping systems for Andean potato weevil infestation and management. The confirmation that weevils do not occur or only in neglected numbers on fallow fields supports the use of plastic barriers to effectively exclude migrating flightless adult weevils to potato fields cultivated after fallow. The distribution of overwintering weevils indicates that farmers could concentrate efforts to control adult weevils mainly to the first meters of potato fields.
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