Worms eating all of my potatoes

williammorgan(6b)July 11, 2012

I purchased new top toil this year for a raised bed. I added cow manure, lobster compost and fertilizer(espoma)and hilled up once and then added straw. I planted at the beginning of April and the potatoes were up around mid month. They never did really look to great. As I checked to see if seeds were coming up I found wireworms and as I now try to check the potatoes I find some white worm peeking in and out of the potatoes. I don't know if it's the larvae of a wireworm or another but all the potatoes have little holes in them.

Question is what can I do to eradicate the worms? I'm looking for an organic solution. I don't live on a farm so I can abandon the bed. I've read of setting up traps to get the worms to gather but if they're everywhere what good would that do?

Also is there anyway to salvage the potatoes now to use for seed potatoes? Could I put them in a bucket of water and the worms would leave? Or would the potatoes just eventually rot anyway?

Sorry no pictures. They would be hard to photograph anyway because they are the same color as the potatoes.

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steven1032

you need to cut the tuber open. is it pink, then you have potato tuber worm. if it is yellowish orange or gray larvae wirworms.

sanitize by getting rid of the infected potato. then you can use beneficial nematodes. steinerneema carpocapsae these are shallow nematodes and heterorhabditis bacteriophora they go deep into the ground. you can get these nematodes online and are activated by water.

only use chemicals as a last resort.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:44PM
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williammorgan(6b)

Thanks Steven,
I cut them open and they look totally healthy on the inside. Where the tuber formed or was connected it is pink though. I looked up potato tuber worm and it looks nothing like that. These are squiggly white and the largest one was thinner than angel hair pasta. Most were like needle thin.

In any case these nematodes will do the job? I wanted to plant peas over the entire bed. Okay to do both?

Funny I just looked up those nematodes and they look like the things all over my potatoes??? Are nematodes(beneficial) going after wireworm larva? There are wireworms in the soil.

This soil consisted of a piece of lawn 20x15, all grass removed, wireworms, grubs etc that I could find removed and 8 cu yards of top soil dumped on top(actually wheel barrowed /7 hours of labor which makes this all seem that much more disappointing). So could the nematodes be actually doing the work and I should let them be?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:32AM
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williammorgan(6b)

I should add the hole in the potatoes are the size of wireworms not the little white worms i'm seeing.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:03AM
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williammorgan(6b)

Must think out loud. Assuming beneficial nematodes are already at work in my potato bed how about this solution...Every single potato I check has these white little worms. So it's safe to assume that if I'm finding them everywhere it's total coverage. Digging up the potatoes to me would seem like a waste. If wireworms only dig a bit in and not all the way through, why can't they be salvaged? Here is my idea. I remove the straw from the bed, cut potato tops off and broadcast peas covering them with potting mix or something. I leave the potatoes so the nematodes(assuming that's what they are)can go to work. I'm sure the pea roots will have no trouble growing through sifted top soil. I just want them to add nitrogen to the soil for next spring. Additionally, I may not choose to eat these potatoes since they are infested but save for seed. Is this unwise? I'm not rich and frankly I'm sick of paying for seed. I'm trying to kill 2 birds with one stone, skin a cat and win the lottery at the same time but I can't stop trying and see very little I have to lose. I'm not talking about 1 worm here and there but a bunch of little white worms all over each potato. They don't fit the hole which I'm sure are wireworms. Is mother nature helping me? Should i interfere to much and be ungrateful? I'm not quite ready to go down with the ship.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:57AM
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