Creating food resilient gardens in a time of climate change

Sweet Potato – Kaukau Gall mite

Gall mite has been around for quite a while. When it’s bad, it can be really bad. The microscopic sized mite causes galls (bumps) on the leaves, leaf petioles and stems of infected kaukau plants. Those galls can really interfere with water and nutrient movement up and down the plant. That means greatly reduced yield when the infestation is severe.

Severe gall mite damage, Enga Province Feb 2016
Severe gall mite damage, Enga Province Feb 2016

It’s particularly galling, pun intended… when we realise it’s not that hard to control. Just never use vine that is infected for planting a new garden. Sadly there’s plenty of villagers who don’t know this.

Also, the literature says there are varieties of Kaukau that the mite doesn’t seem to infect. We need those. Anyone know which lines in PNG are resistant to this little nasty?

What should people do if an infestation really gets away? Well, we are trialling up in Enga two sprays of Orthene a week apart. Watch this space. We will share our results. We need to be using a systemic insecticide as the mite is hidden inside the plant. Hence the systemic requirements.