Cultivation/Production, Most viewed stories, News April 2024, North America, Pests and Diseases, Smart Farming, Sustainability

Breaking ground in biofumigation: A new mustard hybrid offers natural disease control hope to potato growers

In a significant development for the potato industry, a newly registered mustard hybrid, known as AAC Guard, is showing promise as an effective biofumigant against verticillium wilt and certain nematode species, as Ralph Pearce writes in this article published by Manitoba Co-operator in Canada.

This breakthrough comes at a crucial time as the agricultural sector has been grappling with the deregistration of several chemical pesticides in recent years, challenging growers to seek alternative solutions.

Pearce writes that historically, mustard has been used as a biofumigant before the advent of many chemical products. With the phasing out of these chemicals, research and private sector efforts have intensified to rediscover and optimize natural methods for managing crop diseases. AAC Guard, previously known as MSH85, is a male sterile mustard hybrid developed through conventional breeding techniques, without the use of genetic modification. This development was spearheaded by Mustard 21 Canada, a non-profit based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in collaboration with various agricultural research institutions.

The effectiveness of AAC Guard lies in its high glucosinolate content, a chemical that transforms into isothiocyanate when it interacts with water and certain enzymes. This compound is known for its ability to suppress not only verticillium wilt but also other formidable pathogens like fusarium and sclerotinia, which can devastate potato crops.

Rick Mitzel, CEO of Mustard 21 Canada, shared that although seed supplies for the 2024 growing season are limited, the outlook for 2025 is promising. “We planted some seed on speculation and were pretty sure we’d get the registration. We’re definitely going to spread it around and get it to the potato growers this year,” Mitzel stated.

The practical application involves allowing the mustard plants to reach the flowering stage to maximize glucosinolate levels before incorporating them into the soil. This process not only controls diseases but also enhances soil health by increasing biomass and providing quick ground cover, which helps in controlling weeds and preventing soil erosion.

Source: Manitoba Co-operator. Read the full article here
Cover image: Mustard flowers. Credit Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay

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