An IPM specialist is warning pepper growers to remain vigilant for a new strain of peach-potato aphid, Myzus persicae, which is less susceptible to pesticide control.
The so-called genotype R has been identified in sweet pepper crops in Belgium and Germany as well as in the Netherlands and is likely to spread to other countries, says Arno Hellemons of Biobest.
“There are reports of young pepper plants arriving on nurseries already infested with this new strain,” he said. “The resulting pest colonies have been observed to be smaller, but to produce winged individuals more quickly; the upshot is that genotype R can spread faster through the crop.”
He added: “Growers need to follow a robust preventative and curative biological approach.”
Wageningen University Research scientist Karen Kloth was awarded funding in July to look for resistance to the aphid in wild relatives of the pepper crop. At the same time she will study beneficial microbes that could enhance the plant’s defence response.
Another pest, Thrips parvispinus, is causing widespread damage on peppers in Florida, where it is a regulated pest, since it was first found in 2020. Some growers have lost entire crops.
The pest, which has a wide host range, is currently described as present in some European countries including the Netherlands, France and Spain. But Defra says it won’t take statutory action should it be found in the UK. ‘There is no indication that this species causes higher levels of impacts than western flower thrips,’ it says. ‘As the pest is present in several EU countries which we import many hosts from, it is unlikely that we could prevent it from entering the UK.’