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Maine’s battle with PVY: Aroostook Farms Field Day highlights virus strains, control challenges

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension recently hosted a field day at Aroostook Farms to showcase a critical research demonstration involving twenty varieties of potatoes most commonly planted in Maine.

The study and findings were explained to attendees by potato specialists during the Aroostook Farms Potato Virus Field Day. Their study was aimed at farmers and crop consultants, involved planting each variety with three different strains of Potato Virus Y (PVY), along with healthy plants for comparison – PVY-NTN, PVY-O and PVY-Nwi. The goal was to highlight the variation in symptom expression among the varieties when exposed to the virus.

The field day was an opportunity for agricultural professionals to observe firsthand the impact of PVY on potatoes, which included symptoms such as non-sprouting, surface cracking, stunted growth, necrosis on leaves, and crinkling and twisting of the foliage. One of the key concerns is the marketability of the potatoes, as visible damage like surface cracking renders the tubers unmarketable, leading to significant economic losses.

The type of PVY strain has shifted in Maine potato fields over time. PVY-O was the dominant strain, but nowadays PVY-NTN seems to be the major strain. This is problematic because the symptoms are not as obvious as is the case with PVY-O infected plants.

The event also addressed the challenges of controlling PVY, emphasizing that it cannot be eradicated through spraying alone due to its complex epidemiology. PVY is transmitted by aphids, which are not deterred by insecticides in time to prevent the spread of the virus. The experts suggested that the use of crop oils could be beneficial if applied early, likening it to an investment that accrues compound interest over time.

Additionally, the incorporation of systemic insecticides in grain seed treatments was recommended, especially for those rotating crops, as a proactive measure to manage the non-colonizing aphids likely originating from these crops.

This event underscores the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s commitment to providing practical, research-based solutions to the agricultural community, helping to ensure the health and profitability of Maine’s potato industry.

Full details about the field day in the video below, credit and courtesy University of Maine. Also watch it here.

Source: University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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