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Fungicide resistance threatens potato crops: Teagasc workshop emphasizes prevention, mixing of chemistries

Potato late blight, a disease infamous for its role in the Irish potato famine, is far from gone. Experts at a recent workshop at the Teagasc Ashtown Food Research Centre in Ireland are sounding the alarm about new, fungicide-resistant strains of the disease and outlining strategies for growers to protect their crops.

“We have the benefit of the lessons learned in other countries across Europe to help us be better equipped to control these newer strains in Ireland,” said Shay Phelan, Teagasc Potato Crops Specialist.

This statement highlights the urgency as fungicide resistance spreads, previously effective chemicals lose efficacy against the evolving blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans.

The Threat is Real: Experts Share Findings

  • Dr. David Cooke (James Hutton Institute): Highlighted changing European late blight populations and the threat of resistant strains.
  • Dr. Steven Kildea (Teagasc): Confirmed a resistant strain’s presence in Ireland, saying “this detection signified the presence of EU_43_A1 in the Irish late blight population and the onus is now on the entire industry to ensure all precautions to minimize its potential impact on late blight control are adhered to.”
  • Dr. Geert Kessel (Wageningen University and Research): Shared how these resistant strains devastated blight control in the Netherlands and emphasized the critical importance of mixing and alternating fungicide chemistries.
  • Dr. Faye Ritchie (ADAS): Presented trial results showcasing how mixing and alternating fungicides disrupts resistance development.

Key Takeaway: Prevention is Critical

The workshop stressed that potato farmers must take a proactive stance. Mixing and alternating different fungicide chemistries throughout their blight prevention programs will significantly hinder the disease’s ability to develop resistance. This strategy is essential for ensuring the long-term sustainability of these crop protection tools.

Source: Teagasc. Original news release here
Photo: Credit Dreamstime via Open Access Government

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