A new insect has arrived in Canada, spreading a harmful plant disease among Quebec’s strawberry crops. Now, a group of Quebec and Latin American researchers are trying to nip the spread of the insect in the bud.
Nicolas Plante, a Laval University masters student and head of the project: “In recent years, growers noticed that they have many, many more leafhoppers in strawberry fields.” Plante believes leafhoppers are migrating north because our summers are getting warmer. This is awful news, as the insects have the potential to destroy entire crops.
Edel Perez Lopez, an assistant professor at Laval University leading the research team: “One of the ways that this insect affects the farmers is that it reduces the quality of the fruit … also it can lead to reducing the production of the plant.”
Quebec is known to be a main strawberry producer. According to data released by Statistics Canada in July, more than half of all strawberries grown in Canada in 2021 came from Quebec fields. However, that same year, strawberry production in Quebec was down 16. percent below the record-high set in 2017.
As part of their research at Laval University, the scientists are trapping the insects and then analyzing the DNA of more than 500 samples.