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Researchers find that potato plants are at highest risk of PVY infection during first three weeks of growing season

Potato virus Y is the most economically important and devastating aphid-transmitted virus, affecting both tuber yield and quality. The virus is also a major cause of seed potato degeneration, which leads to regular flushing out of seed potatoes after limited field production cycles.

There is no remedy for this virus and once a plant becomes infected, it stays sick for life. Current control methods focus on preventing the virus from infecting potato crops and current research focuses on enhancing preventative measures.

In order to increase the efficiency of management of potato virus Y, University of Idaho scientists conducted research to determine when potato plants are most susceptible to infection.

In this study, the scientists matched a North American potato cultivar, Yukon Gold, and a North American isolate of potato virus Y. They discovered that potato plants are most susceptible to infection during the first three weeks of the growing season – these infected plants produced fewer tubers of smaller size and experienced a 70 percent yield reduction compared to plants inoculated during weeks five through eight. These plants did not suffer any yield or quality issues.

This research shows that potatoes develop an age-related resistance that prevents infection and suggests that management programs should focus on the early stages of potato development.

The scientists are now conducting follow-up research on other potato cultivars and potato virus Y strains that will identify ways for potato growers to protect their crops during the most vulnerable period.

Read the full report by EurekAlert! here

For more information about this study, read the paper published in the January issue of the journal Plant Disease here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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