Population Dynamics of the Beet Leafhopper in Northeastern Oregon and Incidence of the Beet Leafhopper-Transmitted Virescence Agent Phytoplasma


Beet leafhoppers were collected weekly on yellow sticky traps placed at 36 locations in Morrow and Umatilla Counties in northeastern Oregon in April through November 2007, 2008, and 2009. Insects were counted, collected, and a subset of the insects was tested for the presence of the beet leafhopper-transmitted virescence agent phytoplasma, the causal agent of potato purple top disease in this region. Beet leafhoppers were present throughout the sampling period and the number of insects collected peaked in June of each year with smaller peaks in July and October. Of the 804 insects tested for phytoplasma in 2007, 2008, and 2009, 21, 18, and 22% tested positive for phytoplasma, respectively. Most of the phytoplasma-positive insects were collected from mid-June through July. Positive insects, however, were collected as late as 13 November in 2007 and 2008. These data indicate that a relatively high proportion of the beet leafhoppers in this area are harboring the phytoplasma. Therefore, the potential for development of purple top disease of potatoes from migrating beet leafhoppers in this important potato producing region is quite high and measures to control this pest throughout the growing season are probably necessary in order to reduce disease pressure.


Se colectaron chicharritas de la remolacha semanalmente en trampas amarillas pegajosas ubicadas en 36 localidades en los Condados de Morrow y Umatilla en el noreste de Oregon desde abril hasta noviembre de 2007, 2008 y 2009. Se contaron los insectos, se colectaron y se probó un sub-juego de ellos para la presencia del fitoplasma, agente de la virescencia transmitido por la chicharrita de la remolacha, que es el agente causal de la enfermedad de la punta morada de la papa en esta región. Las chicharritas de la remolacha estuvieron presentes a lo largo del período del muestreo y el número de insectos colectados alcanzó un máximo en junio de cada año con pequeños picos en julio y octubre. De los 804 insectos probados para fitoplasma en 2007, 2008 y 2009, 21, 18 y 22% fueron positivos para el fitoplasma, respectivamente. La mayoría de los insectos positivos se colectaron desde la mitad de junio y todo julio. No obstante, se colectaron positivos hasta tan tarde como el 13 de noviembre de 2007 y 2008. Estos datos indican que una alta proporción relativa de las chicharritas de la remolacha en esta área están manteniendo al fitoplasma. De aquí que el potencial de desarrollo de la enfermedad de la punta morada de la papa proveniente de chicharritas migratorias en esta región tan importante en la producción de papa es muy alto y las medidas de control de esta plaga a lo largo del ciclo de cultivo son probablemente necesarias a fin de reducir la presión de la enfermedad.

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We would like extend our thanks to the summer students and the many growers who allowed access to their farms. Special thanks to Amanda Smith. Launa Hamlin, Mary Roster, Gwen Pentecost, and Ruben Marchosky are gratefully acknowledged for technical assistance. This research was partially funded by the Oregon Potato Commission. The use of trade, firm, or corporation names in this publication is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Department of Agriculture or the Agricultural Research Service of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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Crosslin, J.M., Rondon, S.I. & Hamm, P.B. Population Dynamics of the Beet Leafhopper in Northeastern Oregon and Incidence of the Beet Leafhopper-Transmitted Virescence Agent Phytoplasma. Am. J. Pot Res 89, 82–88 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12230-011-9223-2

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  • Plant diseases
  • Phytoplasma