Results Driven Agriculture Research (RDAR) recently announced a project to establish a system for early and rapid diagnosis of all potato diseases, and provide Alberta potato growers a proactive surveillance platform. The outcomes from this project will benefit all Alberta’s potato producers and plant disease researchers. All results of this study will be publicly available for adoption and utilization by other commercial and research labs in the province.
Pests and Diseases
Prince Edward Island’s provincial minister of agriculture has tabled legislation that would give the provincial government a lead role in trying to prevent the spread of potato wart in the province. If passed, the act would give the minister Darlene Compton the authority to prohibit or restrict the planting of certain crops within an area of a field where a regulated disease has been detected, for up to 20 years.
The USDA has published a draft report for public consultation assessing pathways of introduction for potato wart from Canada into the United States. In a recent press release issued by the Canadian Potato Council, the industry body’s manager, David Jones says, “You may be aware of statements from industry stakeholders regarding the report that have raised your concerns about the movement of potatoes grown on Prince Edward Island (PEI). We wish to clarify the intent of the report and the basis upon which the pathway analysis was conducted.”
After USDA risk assessment, NPC urges increased protections to prevent Prince Edward Island potato wart spread
On Thurs., Nov. 10, the National Potato Council (NPC) in the U.S. and a dozen state potato associations issued a letter to USDA Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Services Jenny Moffitt calling on the department to work with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to develop new phytosanitary protocols to prevent the spread of potato wart from Prince Edward Island to U.S. growing areas. USDA concluded the disease is “almost certain to be introduced” to the United States without additional mitigation measures.
More help is on the way for U.S. farmers who struggle to control Colorado potato beetle, as Tim Hammerich of the Ag Information Network reports in a ‘Farm of the Future’ report. Greenlight Biosciences has reportedly developed an RNA-based pesticide alternative that chief commercial officer Mark Singleton says is highly targeted, environmentally-friendly, and safe for consumers.
APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Pale Cyst Nematode (PCN) Eradication Program in Idaho has posted its 2022 third quarter report (July 1 – September 30). The report updates program activities and eradication progress, and provides quarterly and aggregate regulatory, survey, and laboratory data.
Warm, dry fall weather helped the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to continue soil sampling for potato wart, other than a short delay because of post-tropical storm Fiona. CFIA posts a quarterly update on the investigation into potato wart, and the latest report from October shows the agency has now collected almost 30,000 samples, and analyzed almost 20,000 of them.
University of Idaho Extension has published a new bulletin to help potato farmers recognize the symptoms of bacterial ring rot (BRR) and protect their operations from the devastating crop disease. UI Extension Seed Potato Specialist Kasia Duellman hopes the bulletin will remind commercial and seed potato farmers to maintain good sanitation practices and remain vigilant for symptoms. She warns ring rot “can be an existential crisis for a seed potato grower’s business”.
Bayer Crop Science in the UK recently published an insightful article on its website, providing potato growers with advice on the management of potato cyst nematodes (PCN). According to information published in the article, the first step to effectively managing potato-cyst nematodes is to sample soils to identify the species present and the population density. This is best done after the potato crop is harvested when test results will be most accurate. Testing pre-planting is also a useful management tool.
USDA report on potato wart crisis: Extent of infestation on Prince Edward Island ‘likely larger’, current mitigation measures ‘insufficient’
On October 14, USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service released a comprehensive report on the current status of the potato wart crisis on Prince Edward Island, Canada, stating that PEI’s potato wart infestation is “likely” larger than reported and that the virus is “almost certain to be introduced” to the United States without additional mitigation measures in place.
Potato cyst nematodes, or PCN, have been moving up the agenda for Scottish growers for some time now, writes Jane Brisbane of SAC Consulting in an article published by The Scottish Farmer. “These pests have become a serious threat to our tattie industry and it’s not just an issue potato growers need to take seriously, but everyone in arable production, especially those who rent out land for potatoes,” she notes.
University of Idaho researchers are introducing genes from a plant in the nightshade family into potatoes, seeking to develop spuds that resist harmful nematodes. The plant, called ‘litchi tomato’, has natural resistance to several species of cyst and root-knot nematodes. “That’s an unusual trait to have such broad resistance,” said Allan Caplan, associate professor in U of I’s Department of Plant Sciences who is involved in the project.
Researchers at the Canada-Manitoba Crop Diversification Centre (CMCDC) are looking for ideas that would lessen the labour of removing green potato vines in the fall, as Alexis Stockford reports for Manitoba Co-operator. The practice is pitched as a control measure against pathogens such as black dot, verticillium wilt, early blight and other diseases that carry over in potato crop residue.
The increasingly unpredictable climate is triggering a new set of challenges to the Scottish potato industry, where milder summers and winters are leading to an increasing risk of virus transmission in seed crops, says Donald Paterson, cereal and potato husbandry specialist at Scottish Agronomy. To tackle this challenge, Paterson says growers need to be looking increasingly to using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies alongside plant protection products to maintain quality seed.
Playing the ‘wild card’: Is it possible that some wild potato relatives can help tame zebra chip disease?
A new study led by Texas A&M AgriLife researchers has revealed some resistance to zebra chip disease among certain wild species of potato. As Paul Schattenberg reports for AgriLife Today, the study of 52 wild potato species — of which one accession was resistant and three were tolerant to the disease — took place as part of an effort to identify novel genetic resistance to the disease, which affects potato production worldwide.
Met Éireann has said that a Status Yellow warning for potato blight is set to remain in place for Ireland until next week. The national forecaster noted that weather conditions conducive to the spread of the disease will remain across many parts of Ireland through to Tuesday (September 13).
‘Weed hunters’? No, it’s not a joke. It’s a real concept that aims to tackle a serious and costly problem for farmers and their crops – herbicide resistance in weeds. The technique is called “abrasive or projectile weed control”. Using a sandblaster, natural materials like corn grit, corn gluten meal, and walnut shells are “shot” directly at weeds. Researchers found this alternative to herbicides was an effective way of killing weeds.
Farmers got a heads-up during a research session about a potentially damaging fungus that showed up in the Northern Plains this year. The disease, called “rubbery rot,” was seen in North Dakota and Minnesota this summer and was found in Wisconsin in 2019. ”It’s a new problem,” said Gary Secor, North Dakota State University Extension plant pathologist.
Experts at two Midlands universities in the UK are starting a new project to develop a photonic ‘nose’ to monitor crops for pest infestations and plant disease, according to a Wales Farmer report. Aston University is collaborating with Harper Adams University to research and develop technology using light to monitor crop health.
This fact sheet on blackleg in potatoes was compiled by Hort Innovation and RM Consulting Group (RMCG) in Australia, and published online by AUSVEG. It provides information on management strategies of blackleg, the bacteria which commonly cause the disease, and what growers can do to prevent and manage it.
Masaki Shimono has joined the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno as a research scientist, studying beneficial microbes to improve and mitigate disease in potatoes during storage. He is looking into how long-term storage conditions affect potatoes in terms of water loss and disease decay due to plant pathogens. Soft and dry rot, caused by bacterium and fungus, respectively, are two important diseases being investigated.
PCN Action Scotland, a project funded by the Scottish Government are hosting an open day at a PCN trial site near Forfar, Angus on the 16th of August. The event is organised by SAC Consulting Solutions. Attendees will have the opportunity to see a demonstration of Globodera pallida resistant varieties, the difference between tolerance and intolerance to PCN and trap crops, and speak with people from the James Hutton Institute, SRUC and Scottish Agronomy about PCN trials and research.
A new, highly effective lure has been developed by International Pheromone Systems (IPS) in the UK that can help farmers to monitor all three types of Agriotes beetles. Agriotes beetles are one of the most economically damaging pests of arable and horticultural crops. Their slow-growing larvae (wire worms) feed on the roots of a variety of root and leafy crops including potatoes. The IPS pheromone trap was found to perform as well as other traps in the field and offers a more robust option for growers.
Agri-tech company granted funding to develop novel pre-harvest detection of wireworms in potato fields
Agri-tech research and development company B-hive Innovations has been successfully awarded funding to investigate methods of detecting and mapping wireworm populations to help manage this very damaging potato pest. The insect infestation typically goes unnoticed until harvest, by which point it can be too late and not possible to salvage the plant.
New research from Western University has found potato beetles can break down and regrow muscles on demand, allowing them to preserve energy over the winter, as Jeff Renaud of the University of Western Ontario reports in this article published by Phys.Org. This explains how beetles are able to save energy all winter, yet be ready fly and mate immediately in the spring.
Improving the reliability of trap cropping to help farmers overcome potato cyst nematode (PCN) pressure, is being investigated as part of a new feasibility study, funded by Defra and Innovate UK. The project will look at ‘DeCyst solanaceous’ trap crops, which stimulate PCN to hatch at a different point in the rotation to when potatoes are planted. As a result, mature female PCN are prevented from completing their lifecycle, reducing the impact on potato crops.