Pests and Diseases

Weed-killing AI drones may be the future of farming

Precision AI, a leading agricultural startup, has introduced an AI-powered crop-spraying drone to combat the growing weed issue intensified by climate change. This innovative drone reduces chemical usage by up to 90%, offering a sustainable solution to weed management. This development signifies a major advancement in eco-friendly farming, blending technology and sustainability to address environmental concerns in agriculture.

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The battle against potato black dot: A comprehensive review of two decades of research and management strategies

Cranfield and Aberystwyth Universities conducted a 20-year study on potato black dot disease management. Their research, spanning pre- and post-harvest strategies, aimed to identify knowledge gaps and improve disease control. The potato, a staple in global agriculture, faces threats from black dot, a fungus causing economic losses. The study emphasizes the importance of technological solutions, like machine learning, for early disease detection and effective intervention.

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Canada: Potato processor warns against pink rot as harvest gets underway

One bad potato can spoil the batch, which is why processor J.R. Simplot is reminding producers to beware of pink rot as they begin harvest, as Geralyn Wichers reports for Manitoba Co-operator. “If you know there’s rot in there, tell your harvest operator, ‘when you come to that low spot, pick up the harvester, drive over, and don’t harvest those certain areas,’” said Scott Graham, Simplot’s raw agronomy manager. The fungal disease has been an issue for a number of Manitoba producers in recent years, the company said.

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Avoiding storage pitfalls: The importance of dry, cool, and disease-free potato storage facilities

Adrian Cunnington from Potato Storage Insight (PSI) offers guidance to growers on optimal potato storage. Emphasizing the significance of proper skin set and ventilation, he warns against the risks of blight and blackleg diseases reported pre-harvest. Quick storage with effective drying is crucial, especially amidst disease threats. Managing crop temperatures during loading and avoiding crop moisture are vital to maintain tuber quality and ensure successful storage.

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‘The story behind soft rot’: A perspective from South Africa

Potatoes in South Africa have been affected by soft rot and blackleg due to higher than usual rainfall. These bacterial diseases, first identified in 1988, thrive in anaerobic conditions, especially in wet environments. The bacteria can survive in tubers, plant debris, and various plants but not for long in soil. Infected tubers initially show no symptoms, but under conditions like waterlogging, the bacteria multiply, leading to soft rot. Transmission can occur through infested tubers, water, or mechanical means.

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‘Potatoes with the right antennas’: Origin of novel broad resistance to late blight found in wild potato relatives

Researchers from Wageningen University & Research, in collaboration with Tübingen and Norwich colleagues, have advanced our understanding of potato resistance against blight (Phytophthora infestans). Potatoes use receptors to detect and defend against the pathogen. While internal receptors (R genes) are well-understood, external receptors (PRR) need more research. A specific PRR receptor, PERU, shows dynamic evolution, challenging previous beliefs. Studying wild potatoes reveals evolutionary insights, potentially enhancing future potato resistance.

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Addressing potato wart: Prince Edward Island and industry officials to draft plan for ‘pest-free places’

The potato sector of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is collaborating with federal officials to develop a “pest-free places of production” (PFPP) system. Federal Agriculture Minister and P.E.I. MP Lawrence MacAulay on Friday reported meeting with staff and representatives of the P.E.I. Potato Board, to discuss next steps in the face of new potato wart-related restrictions on the province’s crops since 2021.

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New initiative takes aim at Britain’s £31 million PCN problem

A new body, the PCN Forum, has been launched to tackle the potato cyst nematode problem affecting nearly half of Britain’s ware potato lands. Led by GB Potatoes, the forum aims to unite industry and academic experts in a coordinated strategy against the pest, estimated to cost the industry £31 million annually. The initiative marks a significant step towards sustainable agriculture in the UK.

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‘Between health and harvest’: Europe’s debate on glyphosate use

Glyphosate, a key herbicide globally, faces potential bans in Europe due to environmental and health concerns. Its prohibition could significantly impact European agriculture, especially high-value crops. The economic effects vary by country and farming system, with potential increased costs and yield losses. The decision to ban balances health risks against economic implications.

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MSU’s Potato Field Day: A dive into advanced management techniques

Michigan State University (MSU) hosted a Potato Field Day on August 3, emphasizing potato nutrient and disease management. Held at the Montcalm Research Center, the event highlighted the importance of phosphorous management to prevent environmental impact. Experts introduced the “4Rs” of nutrient application and discussed the absence of late blight in Michigan this year. The event also touched on sustainable methods to combat the potato early die complex.

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Potato wart: Canadian Potato Council commends conclusion of CFIA’s soil testing in Prince Edward Island

The Canadian Potato Council (CPC) expressed satisfaction with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) completed investigation in Prince Edward Island. Since fall 2021, 50,000 soil samples were collected, revealing only four instances of potato wart spores, a 0.008% incidence. These detections are within 12 km of each other and are monitored under CFIA’s management plan. CPC’s Chair, Bill Zylmans, thanked CFIA and anticipates reviewing the management plan with the federal government.

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Introducing the GB PCN Forum: GB Potatoes and CUPGRA unite against Potato Cyst Nematode threat in Britain

The British potato industry faces a significant threat from the Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). To address this, GB Potatoes and CUPGRA have established the GB PCN Forum. This collaborative initiative aims to consolidate industry-wide efforts, bringing together experts and stakeholders to devise a comprehensive strategy against PCN. The forum emphasizes research, breeding resistant varieties, and practical solutions, marking a pivotal step in safeguarding the future of the British potato sector.

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CFIA wraps up PEI potato wart probe: U.S. potato industry responds

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has concluded its investigation into the 2021 potato wart detections in Prince Edward Island (PEI). The U.S. potato industry welcomes the progress but emphasizes the need to halt planting in wart-infested fields. The CFIA and USDA APHIS are urged to address vulnerabilities highlighted in a 2022 APHIS report. Without action, the spread of PEI potato wart to the U.S. is deemed inevitable, risking significant economic impact.

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CFIA potato wart probe finally over, but P.E.I. seed potato export ban continues

Nearly two years after the U.S. market was closed to Prince Edward Island potato sales, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has completed an investigation sparked by the detection of potato wart in two Island fields back in 2021. Over the course of the investigation, CFIA staff collected and analyzed nearly 50,000 soil samples from fields associated with those detections of the fungus, which disfigures potatoes and sharply reduces crop yield but is not harmful to humans. 

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Mastering pesticide management: The must-attend course for potato farmers in a post-Brexit era

The “Managing Pesticides in Fresh Produce” course, offered by Practical Solutions International Ltd, aims to clarify the challenges of pesticide use and residue management, especially post-Brexit. Designed for technical managers working with European retailers, the course, tutored by Ian Finlayson, covers topics like EU pesticide legislation, sampling, and data analysis. Scheduled for September and November-December, it offers an interactive learning experience with practical examples. Testimonials praise the course’s practicality and relevance.

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A new frontier in potato breeding: Unlocking the potential of wild potato species for late blight resistance

Researchers are exploring wild potato species for resistance to late blight, a significant disease in potato production. The study by the Institute for Breeding Research on Agricultural Crops and the University of Rostock identifies resistant species and their associated genes. The findings could guide future resistance breeding, offering a sustainable alternative to harmful fungicides.

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Empowering future innovators: Fellowship awarded to promising Univ of Idaho potato researcher

Kelie Yoho, a dedicated student at the University of Idaho (U of I), has received recognition for her remarkable contributions to the potato industry. As a recipient of the prestigious John L. and Lois K. Toevs Fellowship, Yoho was awarded $2,300 towards her education. This fellowship, granted annually to a full-time student, prioritizes graduate research related to potatoes or agronomy conducted at U of I’s Aberdeen, Kimberly, or Parma Research and Extension Centers. Yoho’s project, guided by advisor Erik Wenninger, focused on entomology within the UI Extension program.

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‘Designing the low input potato’: ESoLaB’s fight for a resilient potato industry in Ireland and the EU

The ESoLaB project at Teagasc Oak Park in Ireland is tackling the €1 billion-a-year potato late blight problem in the EU. The project is investigating the genetic mechanisms that enable the disease to evolve and adapt. This research could lead to an early warning system for growers and the development of more effective, sustainable control methods, including blight-resistant potato varieties.

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Researchers use multispectral imaging to detect potato disease earlier

Researchers are finding new ways to use the most recent technology, including multispectral imaging. One example is University of Wisconsin research funded by the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association using cameras mounted on a drone, which autonomously records a light reflection signature of the crop below. Lead researcher Amanda Gevens discusses what the team has learned so far on Brownfield’s Managing for Profit.

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Adapting to climate challenges: Amphore Plus first to fight rising Alternaria risks in the UK

Unpredictable weather and a tough potato season have escalated the threat of Alternaria in the UK. The disease has been detected earlier than usual, with crops already showing severe die-back. The reduced use of mancozeb and expensive fertilisers, along with extreme heat and light stress, have made crops more susceptible. Syngenta’s Technical Manager, Andy Cunningham, advises early preventative measures and the use of specific fungicides to combat the disease and protect unaffected plants.

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Unlocking resistance: Harnessing wild potato relatives to improve late blight protection

A study by researchers at the International Potato Center focused on improving potato resistance to late blight (LB) by incorporating LB resistance from wild potato species into cultivated potatoes. The research involved techniques like rescue pollination and sexual polyploidization to transfer beneficial traits from wild potatoes to cultivated ones. The study resulted in the development of promising sexual and tetraploid hybrids with desirable traits such as high dry matter and LB resistance. These hybrids offer potential for future potato breeding strategies but further research is needed to validate their resistance and address any undesirable traits.

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Colorado potato beetle found in the UK for the first time in 46 years

The Colorado potato beetle, a significant threat to potato crops, has been found in the UK for the first time since 1977. The beetle larvae were identified in a Kent field and confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). The APHA is working to eradicate the pest, which can strip potato plants of their leaves, and is conducting a survey to determine the extent of the infestation. The beetles are occasionally imported into the UK from continental Europe as ‘hitchhikers’ on non-host plant material, such as leafy vegetables, salad leaves, fresh herbs and grain.

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