A Washington state trial program highlights the seed-borne diseases impacting potato crops across the region.
The Washington Commercial Potato Seed Lot Trial has been conducted for 56 years (since 1961, with a three-year hiatus in the late ’70s/early ’80s). It observes the performance of seed lots that are being grown in commercial potato fields across Washington state every year.
This useful trial also helps individual growers diagnose seed-borne issues that occasionally show up in their crop.
Prof Carrie Huffman Wohleb at Washington State University explains how it works in an article published by American Vegetable Grower magazine. She notes that the Washington Commercial Potato Seed Lot Trial is led by Dr. Mark Pavek, Professor and Potato Extension and Research Specialist with WSU. The Washington State Potato Commission funds the seed lot trial with an annual grant.
She says personnel at Washington State University (WSU) organize the seed lot trial. “We usually receive and plant 200 to 300 seed lot samples each year, each consisting of about 300 seed tubers, at the WSU Research Unit in Othello, WA.”
“Once the plants emerge and reach at least 20-inches high, pathologists and other experts visually inspect them. They’ll flag plants that show seed-borne disease symptoms or other problems, like herbicide injury. At the end of June, everyone is invited to a field day to view the seed lots and discuss the results.”
Prof Huffman Wohleb provides some of the production problems the trials have identified for growers over the years in the article.
Photo: Bacterial ring rot tuber symptoms. Photo by Babette Gundersen