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Staying on top of late blight: Canadian potato industry put spore trapping technology to work

On June 18 a crop consultant in Alberta told Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist, that spore traps in the province had caught late blight spores. Ontario is going through a wave of hot and dry weather, and out west in Alberta, it’s the opposite with cooler, wet weather. Stephanie Gordon, editor of Potatoes in Canada magazine, reports.

The fields are healthy but the detection of late blight spores is of concern, according to Banks.

Alberta had almost been late blight free until 2010 when late blight was discovered in many Alberta potato fields. In 2014 in response to the discovery, the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) supported a spore-trapping project.

Melanie Kalischuk at Lethbridge College, who headed the study, says: ““A number of years ago, Alberta potatoes had an economic advantage because late blight was rare in the province. With this project we are helping to bring back the Alberta advantage.”

In Ontario, Eugenia Banks lead a two-year Ontario Potato Board project evaluating one type of spore trapping technology in order to help growers improve late blight management with good results. The year 2020 marks the fourth year spore traps will be set up in potato fields across Ontario to help detect spores of late blight.

Spore traps are low-technology devices that sit in a field and collect disease spores from the air and water. The collected filters are sent to A&L Laboratories for bi-weekly PCR analysis to assess disease risk. The results are shared with growers and early detection of late blight potential helps alert growers to add late blight fungicide into their mix.

Source: Read the full report by Stephanie Gordon on the Potatoes in Canada website here
Photo: The latest model of the spore traps installed across fields in Ontario to help detect spores of late blight. Photo courtesy of Eugenia Banks

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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