Pests and Diseases

The AsiaBlight Network looks to the future

As in many potato-growing parts of the world, late blight disease stifles production and earnings. In China, the story is no different as smallholder potato farmers lose millions of tons of potato and hundreds of millions of dollars annually in potential income due to this pathogen‘s effects. To improve farming practices and technologies to overcome this challenge, the CIP-China Center for Asia Pacific (CCCAP) organized the 4th annual AsiaBlight meeting in Shandong last month.

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Canada’s potato growers now have new chemical weapon against early blight

Previously registered in several vegetable crops, Syngenta’s Miravis Duo can now help potato growers safeguard quality and yield against early blight, in addition to several other costly diseases. Depending on their geography, potato growers can expect to make multiple in-season applications of a fungicide specifically targeting early blight, according to Syngenta. With every application of Miravis Duo, growers can also control brown spot while protecting against Botrytis and white mould.

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The future of crop protection? GM plant grows insect sex pheromones as alternative to crop pesticides

Scientists have discovered how to genetically modify the camelina plant to produce pheromone precursors that can control agricultural insect pests without the use of pesticides. Revolutionary research is being done by ISCA, Inc., a “green” agricultural technology company based in Riverside, Calif., in collaboration with Lund University in Sweden. ISCA says pheromone controls are the future of crop protection.

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New rules for Idaho PCN field quarantines

U.S. officials have released a new plan involving methods to deal with pale cyst nematode discovered in 2006 in some southeastern Idaho potato fields. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final rule that takes effect at the end of January. It sets out years-long criteria for killing off the pests and reopening quarantined fields to production. The new rule follows a 2018 court decision in a lawsuit filed by potato farmers that found the U.S. government illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields.

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Potato early dying disease in the spotlight at Canadian Potato Summit

Potato early dying disease, also known as Verticillium wilt, results in early potato maturity and can limit yield by as much as 50 per cent. What can Canadian growers do to protect their spuds? Mario Tenuta and Dmytro Yevtushenko of the Canadian Potato Early Dying Network (CanPEDNet) will share research updates on this disease during the upcoming Canadian Potato Summit on February 3.

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AHDB applies for Emergency Authorisations after Vydate ban

Following an announcement that nematode treatment Vydate 10g has not been re-authorised and as of 1 January this year it is no longer approved for use in the UK, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board has applied for emergency approval to provide limited use of the product for the 2021 growing season. Following consultation with stakeholders AHDB submitted requests for emergency approvals for those Vydate uses where growers lack alternative pest control options.

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The puzzle of non-host resistance: Why do pathogens harm some plants but not others?

People have puzzled for years why pathogen Phytophthora infestans causes the devastating late blight disease on potatoes, but has no effect at all on plants like apple or cucumber. How are apple trees and cucumber plants able to completely shake off this devastating pathogen? Agricultural scientists have wondered for years: if this resistance is so complete and persists over so many generations, is there some way we could transfer it to susceptible plants and thereby stop the disease?

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2Blades Foundation: The quest to bring a durable, blight-resistant potato to African farmers

The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a project that recently developed a durable solution for the late blight potato disease. The discovery is of historic importance, and now 2Blades is seeking partners to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa. 2Blades Foundation says it is honored to have the support of the son of Robert F. Kennedy, businessman Chris Kennedy, for its African Potato Initiative.

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Bangladesh to import blight resistant GMO varieties developed at Michigan State University

Thousands of farmers in Bangladesh grow potatoes on over one million acres of land, spending up to a fourth of their investment on fungicide sprays to fight late blight. The disease damages 20 percent of the total potato production in the country. The Bangladeshi government has finally allowed its scientists to import two blight resistant (RB) potato varieties, developed at the Michigan State University (MSU), and agreed that field trials can be conducted with the varieties.

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‘Fight the blight’: CIP developed an app to help potato farmers in developing countries reduce agrochemical use

Late blight disease remains the biggest threat to potato farming globally, causing USD billions of crop loss each year. In most areas, farmers can only grow potatoes if they regularly apply fungicides, which control the highly destructive pathogen but pose risks to the environment, farmers and their families. Scientists at the International Potato Center (CIP) have developed an easy-to-use decision support tool to help farmers optimize their fungicide use.

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‘Battle cry of the potato’ – How a potato wild relative fights off blackleg and soft rot pathogen

Potato production is severely affected by high susceptibility to a wide range of microbial pathogens, such as bacteria from the genus Pectobacterium, which cause various devastating diseases in potato and produce important economic losses. In a recent study, scientists from Colorado State University (CSU) revealed that metabolites from a potato wild relative (S. chacoense) contribute to disease resistance by altering the pathogenic behavior of Pectobacterium brasiliense, rather than inhibiting its growth or killing it.

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Australia: Specialists explore effect of sanitisers and drying on post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes

Management of rots, both in the field and post-harvest, is an ongoing challenge for potato producers around the world, also in Australia. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) Partnership Network recently hosted a podcast during which two specialists from the US and Belgium discussed a trial that was set up in Australia to explore the effect of sanitisers and/or drying on the development of post-harvest bacterial soft rot in potatoes.

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Scientists document the evolutionary change in P. infestans populations in potato crops in Indonesia

A new study identifies for the first time the genotypes, or strains of P. infestans, causing late blight in the main potato-growing regions on the island of Java in Indonesia and further examines the diversity in the genetic makeup in the P. infestans populations in those regions. Results suggest that the original genotype introduced into Indonesia was probably EU_2_A1 and that there is ongoing evolution in these populations due to a high mutation rate and no selection pressure from the susceptible potato hosts that are currently being grown in Indonesia.

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Syngenta, Gowan collaborate to deliver new insecticide to the North American market

Syngenta recently announced the global launch of spiropidion, an innovative new insecticide active ingredient. The technology will help farmers protect a broad range of crops against damaging and difficult-to-control sucking pests. In North America, Syngenta has entered into an agreement with Gowan to market and sell a patented spiropidion 300 SC formulation in the U.S. and Canada.

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Syngenta announces launch of ‘Spiropidion’ – A new insecticide active ingredient

Syngenta says in a news release that it is proud to unveil Spiropidion, an innovative new insect control technology that will help farmers protect their crops against damaging sucking pests in an effective and environmentally sustainable manner. Sucking pests, such as aphids, whiteflies, and scales, devastate high value fruit and vegetables. Spiropidion is the result of chemistry-driven innovation within a rare class of insecticides that helps crops from the inside, protecting the whole plant body from attack of damaging sucking pests.

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Breakthrough discovery: How Colorado potato beetles beat pesticides

In a first-of-its-kind study, led by Prof. Yolanda Chen at the University of Vermont (UVM), the research team shows that epigenetic changes, passed to new generations, may solve the paradox of rapid pesticide resistance by the infamous Colorado potato beetle. For more than a 150 years the Colorado potato beetle eventually managed to overcome most every pesticide thrown its way. The UVM study moves dramatically closer to an explanation.

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Bug defense: New wireworm control products registered for use in Canada

BASF Canada Agricultural Solutions (BASF) recently received registration from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for broflanilide, its newest active ingredient. Broflanilide is an insecticide in two new unique products: Teraxxa F4 insecticide and fungicide for cereals and Cimegra for potatoes and corn. Both products will be available to Canadian growers for the 2021 season.

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Disease-suppressive crops at work: The prevention and management of soilborne potato diseases

Disease-suppressive crops work in multiple ways: by not being a crop host to the disease, by actively lowering pathogen levels, and by boosting soil health so the overall growing environment is more resilient to disease. In a recent episode of Potatoes in Canada’s Tuber Talk podcast series, Robert Larkin, a USDA-ARS research plant pathologist based in Maine, discussed the different ways crops can lower disease pressure and all about soil health more broadly.

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Previously unknown variant of potato wart disease discovered in the Netherlands

According to a report by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), an unknown variant of wart disease was discovered in agricultural fields in the municipality of Stadskanaal in the north-east of the country. The new variant may have serious consequences for the control of wart disease in this region where potatoes are intensively cultivated, the Authority says. The NVWA says it is conducting further research into the origin of the contamination.

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Pink rot and potatoes: ICP project in Australia published practical fact sheet

Pink rot of potato is an important soil borne storage disease of potatoes worldwide. This useful fact sheet outlines the symptoms, hosts, risk factors & disease cycle of pink rot, as well as potential management options. The Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) project in Australia published a practical 6 page fact sheet on pink rot and how it impacts potatoes.

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Fight the blight: Why a new potato variety could be a game-changer for farmers in East Africa

Researchers from the National Agricultural Research Organisation Uganda and the International Potato Center, have developed a new variety of potato which is resistant to late blight. Using new molecular techniques, they transferred late-blight resistance genes into the popular East African potato variety Victoria. The new variety, known as 3R Victoria, is almost identical to the variety farmers now plant in Uganda, with one crucial difference. It contains three genes from a potato relative that provide it with complete resistance to the late blight pathogen.

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Tasmanian Government confirms it will update potato import risk assessment

Tasmania’s import risk assessment for potatoes will be updated following concerns raised by growers over an import license approval. Primary Industries Minister Guy Barnett during budget estimates last week confirmed work on the import risk assessment was underway and was part of the government’s response to the controversy caused by a granted import licence to a South Australian processor.

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New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority approves new herbicide Solento

Potato farmers in New Zealand have a new tool to control broadleaf weeds in their crops, now that a new herbicide has been approved with strict conditions. Soleto contains the active ingredient metobromuron, which is new to New Zealand, but approved in Europe. The applicant, Belchim Crop Protection, sought approval for the importation or manufacture of Soleto. It said the way the product is used (ground-based application) means that there is a low exposure risk for operators and bystanders.

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Bad news for the Canadian potato industry: Potato wart confirmed in Prince Edward Island

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has confirmed the presence of potato wart in two fields on a farm in Prince Edward Island (PEI), according to a pest report issued today by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). According to the report, the CFIA has placed the fields under quarantine and is carrying out official control measures under the authority of the federal Plant Protection Act and Plant Protection Regulations.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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