Cultivation/Production, North America, Pests and Diseases, Research

Potato pathogens meet their match through $8 million multi-state research initiative

For nearly four years, plant pathologists Courtney Jahn and Jane Stewart have worked closely with Colorado potato growers, leading state-funded research to assess soil health, disease mitigation and crop rotation strategies.

Now, together with researchers from nine other universities, Jahn and Stewart will continue exploring best practices for strong, disease-resistant potato crops in Colorado and beyond, as co-recipients of an $8 million national grant.

Jahn and Stewart, both faculty members in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, are sharing in the four-year grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, under the Specialty Crop Research Initiative funding program.

The project’s aim is to marshal interstate expertise to fully understand all factors affecting soil health and soil-borne potato diseases, which account for half of all annual U.S. potato crop losses. In the U.S., potatoes are grown on more than 1 million acres in 30 states, with a farm-to-gate value of $4 billion. The top producing states, comprising four major growing regions, include: Washington, Oregon, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine and Colorado.

The overall goal of the four-year project, which is led by researchers at the University of Minnesota, will be to enhance the environmental quality and economic viability of potato operations in the U.S.

Colorado growers do not typically use fumigation to protect their plants, due to the state’s drier climate and higher elevations. However, Colorado does encounter other soil-borne diseases including common and powdery scab, and soft rot.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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