Europe, UK, Ireland, Pests and Diseases

Scottish Agronomy conference hears of new late blight strain

The discovery of new late blight strain in Fife last year has highlighted the value of continual crop monitoring, potato experts have claimed.

As Ken Fletcher reports for The Scottish Farmer, the first UK case of the 41_A2 late blight genotype that emerged in Denmark in 2013 was detected in a crop of Maris Piper grown in Fife, last August. The news was described as evidence of the value that genotype testing, until now funded by AHDB Potatoes, provided to growers.

Speaking at the Scottish Agronomy potato conference held online on February 2, Dr David Cooke, research lead in cell and molecular sciences at the James Hutton Institute and co-ordinator for the EuroBlight potato late blight monitoring project, explained that the genotype was detected during routine sample analysis.

There is no indication of its source, but human activity would be the likely cause, given that regulations in Scotland mean only home-grown seed can be planted.

Eric Anderson, Scottish Agronomy senior agronomist, agreed that the distance to known source of infection in Scandinavia or the Netherlands meant airborne spread was highly unlikely. “Its almost certainly human interaction of some kind but we should not discount the possibility that it spread from a tomato plant to a potato crop,” Mr Anderson said.

Source: The Scottish Farmer. Full story here
Photo: Potato expert Dr David Cooke highlighted the way blight strains were evolving. Courtesy The Scottish Farmer

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