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How breeding can help farmers manage PCN in potatoes

A breeding collaboration in the UK, searching for new marketable spud varieties showing resistance and high tolerance to potato cyst nematode, have put forward five promising candidate clones for National List testing. Adam Clarke reports on this initiative for Farmers Weekly.

Clarke writes that Grampian Growers, E Park & Sons and Skea Organics – known as the GPS partnership – plus commercial research group James Hutton Institute have been developing new potato varieties in England since 2016.

These trials have been designed to screen new resistant clones for best tolerance against potato cyst nematode (PCN). This has been achieved by planting in soils with high populations of the predominant PCN species in Britain, Globodera pallida, and with no chemical treatment applied.

E Park & Sons company agronomist Pip Blaylock has been overseeing the English farm trials since 2014, when the GPS breeding programme started with some 40,000 seedlings. These were whittled down to just 13 possessing the desired traits for a final examination in 2020.

Across sites in Scotland and five sites in England, last year’s trials tested the 13 on a range of soil types and for end use requiring commercial agronomy plans to maximise output and test their tolerance to PCN populations on specific sites.

The group now believes it has three varieties that produce an excellent fresh table or baking potato, a crisping variety and also a salad variety. Each one can provide a far better economic return to the farmer through their high tolerance, which leads to higher yields and better and bolder tuber samples and, in the longer term, a reduction in PCN control costs.

Source: Farmers Weekly. Read the full report here
Photo: Courtesy Blackthorn Arable, published in Farmers Weekly

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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