Pests and Diseases

European researchers unite to combat potato pest threat at inaugural wireworm workshop

To tackle the growing wireworm threat to potatoes, scientists will convene in Oslo during the 22nd Triennial Conference of the European Association for Potato Research for the European Wireworm Research Network’s inaugural workshop. They aim to develop collaborative strategies for pest management, with a focus on new research, monitoring methods, and sustainable practices to protect potato crops, enhancing food security in Europe and globally.

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‘Preventing the next plant plague’: Jean Ristaino’s groundbreaking research in the fight against potato blight

Plant pathologist Jean Ristaino from NC State University is spearheading research to combat plant diseases such as late blight in potatoes and tomatoes. She is developing a rapid detection system to manage plant diseases efficiently and mapping the Phytophthora ‘tree of life’ to understand disease evolution. Her international collaboration and upcoming book “The Potato Plague” emphasize the global effort needed to secure food supplies amid climate change and population growth.

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2024 strategies in potato disease and pest control: Miller Research to hold annual Potato Pest Management Meeting

On February 21, 2024, Miller Research will host its Potato Pest Management Meeting at Rupert’s Wilson Theater, with a virtual attendance option. The event, from 9 AM to 12:30 PM, includes expert talks on bacterial diseases, fungicides, and chemigation, with continuous education credits available for various states. Registration is $20, benefiting the local 4-H after expenses.

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Kenya’s breakthrough with biotech: Embracing GMO potatoes for a better future

Kenya’s recent agricultural initiatives include the adoption of genetically modified organisms to address climate change and food security issues. The article by James Kamuye Kataru discusses Kenya’s significant step towards innovation with the introduction of a late blight resistant biotech potato, developed through a collaboration involving KALRO, the International Potato Center, and Michigan State University. This advancement aims to increase farmer incomes, reduce fungicide use, improve crop yields, and set a pioneering example for other agricultural nations.

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Expert plant pathologist to address challenges in potato disease management at upcoming Ontario Potato Conference

As the Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show approaches, excitement grows among potato professionals. Slated for February 29, the event focuses on industry challenges and advances. Keynote speaker Ken Frost, a plant pathologist, will address disease management. Dr. Eugenia Banks cites Frost’s insights on a harmful pathogen strain as crucial. Early registration ends February 23, with the conference offering educational opportunities like CEU credits, signaling a commitment to agricultural innovation and excellence.

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Tracing potato blight’s origins: A text analytics journey from America to Ireland

Researchers at North Carolina State University analyzed historical and modern writings to understand the spread and impact of Phytophthora infestans, the pathogen behind the Irish potato famine and current issues in potatoes and tomatoes. By digitizing documents from 1843 to 1845, they traced the pathogen’s travel in the U.S. before hitting Ireland.

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Zebra chip disease watch: Univ of Idaho reports more disease bacteria in psyllids despite low pest count

In 2023, the University of Idaho’s pest monitoring program noted a slight increase in potato psyllids carrying the bacterium causing zebra chip disease in Idaho potatoes compared with normal years, though there were fewer psyllids overall. The highest concentration was in the Treasure Valley region. A centralized website,, now provides regional pest data.

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How Canada’s Prince Edward Island potato farmers combat soil erosion and disease threats

In Prince Edward Island, known for some as the “potato capital of the world”, farmers grapple with soil erosion due to harsh climate conditions, risking agricultural productivity. Techniques like minimal tilling and cover cropping are being adopted. Similarly, the EU faces a €1.25 billion productivity loss from erosion, prompting policy for land management to qualify for aid. Globally, sustainable agriculture is key to combatting climate-related degradation for food security.

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The impact of glyphosate herbicide on potato crops: Insights from potato expert Andy Robinson

Prof Andy Robinson’s bulletin titled “Glyphosate on Potatoes” highlights the risks of glyphosate herbicide on potatoes, a crop particularly vulnerable to it. Low-level exposure can cause decreased yield and quality, with symptoms such as yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and tuber defects. Contamination may arise from drift, tank residues, or misapplication. Robinson underscores the need for proper application techniques and mitigation to prevent glyphosate damage, and suggests testing for residues in suspected cases.

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Groundbreaking potato virus detection technology emerges from China’s Sichuan province

Western (Chongqing) Science City has introduced a Potato Seed Virus Nano Microsphere Immunoassay Rapid Diagnostic Kit, designed by Professor Lyu Dianqiu’s team. This significant development offers quick, efficient diagnosis of potato viruses, delivering results in 5 minutes, including for PVX and PVY – far faster than old methods. With high sensitivity and cost-effectiveness, it’s suited for field use, boosting potato quality and yields in China’s major potato region. The kit has reached international markets, aiding Belt and Road Initiative countries.

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New potato-threatening pathogens reported for first time in Pennsylvania and the U.S.

Penn State researchers have identified new strains of pathogens threatening Pennsylvania’s potato crops, leading to diseases such as black leg and soft rot. Studying 456 bacterial samples from affected plants, they discovered previously undetected species in the state and the U.S. The research, supported by the USDA, aims to enhance disease surveillance and management practices, considering the significant impact on the potato and potato chip industries in Pennsylvania and the northeast U.S.

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Emerging threat: WUR spearheads €7 million project to address rising plant-parasitic nematodes in Europe

Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the Netherlands is leading a 7 million euros-funded research project called NEM-EMERGE, focusing on the increasing threat of root-knot and cyst nematodes to potato and tomato crops due to climate change and genetic selection. The project aims to map the distribution of nematodes, understand resistance gene instability, develop practical solutions, and promote collaboration for sustainable agriculture.

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‘Tackling challenges head-on’: Exploring trends and triumphs at Ontario’s premier potato gathering

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference and Trade Show, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks, will address critical issues in the industry. Keynote speaker Gary Secor will tackle late blight, while Mark VanOostrum shares grower challenges. The event includes a dynamic Trade Show and afternoon sessions on soil health and soft rot management. Attendees can gain CEU credits and free parking. Online registration will open soon, and the Ontario Potato Board encourages participation. Contact Dr. Banks for details.

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Pepper ringspot virus outbreak prompts Zimbabwe to restrict potato imports from South Africa

Zimbabwe restricts import of potatoes from South Africa due to an outbreak of Pepper ringspot virus (PepRSV). The Ministry of Lands aims to protect the local potato industry. The International Plant Protection Convention issued a notification on the detection of PepRSV in South Africa, warning of potential negative effects on trade and export. Symptoms of PepRSV in potatoes include brown lines, rings, and flecks, with potential economic losses due to quality issues.

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UK’s Health and Safety Executive proposes withdrawal of mancozeb approval, impacting agricultural practices

The Health and Safety Executive of Great Britain has proposed the withdrawal of the widely used pesticide mancozeb. This decision, expected to impact agricultural practices, may lead to changes in mancozeb’s use. Despite the proposed withdrawal, efforts are underway to explore options for maintaining its availability in the UK market. The approval is set to expire on 31st January 2024, with a possible interim extension.

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GreenLight Biosciences unveils ‘Calantha’: A revolutionary new bioinsecticide for Colorado potato beetle control

GreenLight Biosciences’ Calantha, a groundbreaking RNA-based bioinsecticide, has received EPA and state registration for controlling the destructive Colorado potato beetle. This marks a significant advancement in agricultural pest management, offering a sustainable, effective alternative to traditional chemical pesticides. Calantha degrades quickly without leaving harmful residues.

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EPA greenlights novel biopesticide, targeting Colorado potato beetle with RNA technology

The EPA announced last week that it has registered Ledprona, a biopesticide using dsRNA for potato crops to combat the Colorado potato beetle. This RNA interference technology targets the beetle without creating genetically modified organisms. It offers an alternative to chemical pesticides, addressing resistance management and aiding in climate change challenges. The EPA rigorously evaluated Ledprona’s safety, making its registration a significant advancement in environmentally friendly pest control methods.

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Agricultural innovators: Pioneering project calls for British farmers to help train robots in slug control

A groundbreaking trial in the UK will equip farmers with special rigs to train robots to detect and treat slugs in arable crops. The project, part of SLIMERS, aims to develop sustainable slug control strategies using advanced technology and biological agents. Farmers can participate in a webinar on January 10 and receive payment for their involvement. The initiative seeks to enlist farmers with a strong understanding of pest control and a willingness to embrace new technologies.

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Progress in the fight against potato wart: CFIA and PEI potato industry’s joint efforts outlined

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato industry are collaborating to combat the spread of potato wart, a critical initiative for the nation’s economy. CFIA says in a press release it is seeking feedback on key Risk Management Documents to shape a new National Potato Wart Response Plan. Initiatives include a tool to identify restricted areas for potato growers and a comprehensive guide on movement requirements and biosecurity. The latest survey reveals no new instances of potato wart on PEI.

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New threat to potatoes: ‘Potato rugose stunting virus’, a newly characterized potato virus

A new virus, Potato Rugose Stunting Virus (PotRSV), causing severe symptoms in potatoes, has been identified in Peru according to a report on the EPPO Global Database. This virus had also been intercepted on potato in the Netherlands and in the USA. The virus was first noticed in the 1990s and caused an uncharacterized disease in cultivated potatoes in Southern Peru. Further research has classified the virus into the Torradovirus genus.

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Uniting forces: Europatat issues global call for information on projects aimed at wireworm control in potato production

Europatat, the European Potato Association, has made a global appeal for collaborative action against the spread of wireworms, a notorious pest impacting potato crops worldwide. Recognizing wireworms as a persistent threat causing substantial economic losses, the organization calls on researchers and industry experts worldwide to reach out and share details on ongoing or envisioned projects and initiatives aimed at the management of wireworms in potato production.

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USDA funds Potatoes USA-backed research for sustainable pest control alternatives

The USDA has funded a Potatoes USA-backed project to find alternatives to neonicotinoids, used for 25 years in potato farming. Facing environmental and retailer concerns, this “Potato IPM” project aims to develop non-neonic pest strategies, create decision tools, study socioeconomic impacts, and encourage grower adoption. Potatoes USA’s committee secured significant industry support, continuing its history of advancing sustainable potato farming practices with this groundbreaking initiative.

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Why late blight management in Britain just got more complicated for 2024

A late blight genotype that is resistant to a second fungicide mode of action continues to spread through Europe, meaning British potato growers will need to take extra care when planning control strategies next year. The Fight Against Blight (FAB) monitoring initiative, which looks for genetic changes in the late blight population and its sensitivity to key fungicides, delivered its latest results at the 2023 British Potato event (BP2023).

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Innovations and insights at the Ontario Potato Conference and AGM: Must-attend events for potato industry professionals

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks and the Ontario Potato Board, is set for February 29th in Guelph. Featuring a Late Blight Symposium and a growers’ panel, the conference will address 2023’s challenges and strategies for 2024. The event includes a Trade Show with new tech exhibitors. The Ontario Potato Board’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Dec 6 will feature a special zoom presentation by Dr. Nora Olsen on tips for managing compromised potatoes in storage.

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