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Agricultural Review

NCDA&CS begins two-year survey for sweet potato weevil in Brunswick and New Hanover counties

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Plant Industry Division will begin an extensive survey in Brunswick and New Hanover counties Feb. 1 for the sweet potato weevil, the most significant sweet potato pest in the world.

“The survey is being conducted to gain a better understanding of the weevil and its distribution in these counties, with the long-term goal of developing a program to eradicate the pest,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The sweet potato weevil is a significant threat to the state’s commercial sweet potato crop, which generates $198 million in cash receipts. North Carolina produces about 50 percent of the total U.S. production, and it is an important crop that we need to protect.”

The coastal areas of southern Brunswick and New Hanover counties are the only places in North Carolina where these weevils are found. To prevent their spread into the state’s sweet potato production areas, the department restricts the movement of regulated commodities such as sweet potato plants. The department also encourages residents not to plant sweet potatoes or host plants for weevils such as ornamental sweet potatoes on their properties.

The surveys will use green bucket traps baited with female-specific sex pheromone used to attract male weevils into the trap. The trap will also contain a contact insecticide to kill the trapped insects. Traps will be deployed in the two counties starting Feb. 1, and will collect information on the basic biology of the weevil and its current distribution in the area. NCDA&CS staff will monitor the traps on a bi-weekly basis for the next two years and use the information gathered to prepare an integrated pest management program. The project is being funded through a specialty crop block grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“It is important that residents in these counties not disturb the traps when they see them, to avoid coming in contact with the small amount of pesticides in the traps and to not disturb the data being collected,” said Vernon Cox, director of the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division. “We greatly appreciate the public’s help and encourage anyone with questions or concerns about these traps on or near their property to contact us at 800-206-9333.”

For additional information, contact Phillip Wilson at 919-707-3753 or at phil.wilson@ncagr.gov.

 

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Brian Long, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047


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