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Potato specialist advises on best management practices for pink rot and Pythium leak

Dr. Jeff Miller, President and CEO of Miller Research in Idaho, presented on this topic during the recent Idaho Potato Conference, which was hosted online January 19 – 21.

Starting off his presentation, Jeff showed two photos to compare what the infected potatoes would look like if a grower was to see them in the field, saying that the external part of the tuber looks very similar for both diseases – they look kind of wet and a darker brown, the lenticels will appear to have a dark brown to a black color, and they look somewhat slimy. There are differences though, as Jeff explained.

Pink rot (left) and Pythium leak (right) | Jeff Miller

Talking about pink rot management, he said there’s a number of different tools that growers can use. “We know that crop rotation is extremely important – the closer of rotations are together the more pressure we have for pink rot. Low pH soils are favourable for a disease infection or disease development. We can plant less susceptible varieties.”

Jeff pointed out that irrigation management is important. “This is a tough one,” he said, “because most people feel they’re managing their irrigation correctly. But often there may be ways to improve on that.”

“Fungicides are often the things that we we focus on the most because it’s one that we have the most degrees of freedom – at least the growers have the most choice on that.”

Pink rot | Jeff Miller

Jeff pointed out that growers can avoid disease favourable conditions during harvest.

“Another way of saying that, is the warmer it gets – especially if we’re looking at 65 degrees and above – we increase our risk of infection, although we can apply fungicides post harvest to manage it. We can also grade out infected tubers going into storage. And once they get into storage if we can reduce the temperature down to 55 degrees or lower, that will also slow the development disease.”

Dr Jeff Miller’s full presentation can be viewed in the video below, and can also be watched on YouTube here. He can be reached on [email protected]

This and other presentations from specialists at the 2021 Idaho Potato Conference have been uploaded online on the website of the University of Idaho here.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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