"Some Bugs Like it Hot: Climate Change and Agricultural Pests"

Climate change and warmer temperatures are already hurting agriculture in California.

"Potato grower Brian Kirschenmann bent over the deep green plants in his field in New Cuyama, nestled in a verdant valley an hour southwest of Bakersfield, and looked at the bottom of each leaf.

Next to him, his crop advisor Gary Toschi examined a leaf under a magnifying glass.

'That one is active,' said Toschi.

He and Kirschenmann had found a round, bright green insect, about the size of the comma on a computer keyboard. The tiny pest is called a potato-tomato psyllid, and both the young nymphs like the one they found, and the adults, which are shaped like a cicada, wreak havoc on potatoes, as well as tomatoes, peppers and about 40 other crops.

In potatoes, they suck the plant dry. And what's worse, the pest also can transmit a disease that ruins potato chips – a $6 billion business in the United States, despite the bad rap chips get from nutritionists. The disease transmitted by potato-tomato psyllids gives chips a burnt flavor and causes them to develop brown streaks, which is why the disease is known as 'zebra chip.'"

Gabriela Quirós reports for QUEST Northern California via KQED September 28, 2012.

SEE ALSO:

"California Farmers Examine Climate Change Issues" (Fresno Bee)
 

Source: Quest/KQED, 10/01/2012