Pests and Diseases

The future of late blight control: A research vision

In a recent interview with the Global Potato News magazine, Prof Francine Govers at the Laboratory of Phytopathology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands says she believes it is essential to approach the problem of late blight control in the future from a number of different perspectives. Integrated disease control at all levels is the way to go, she says. Prof Govers[Read[Read More…]

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Impacts of seed and soil health on potato production

Rising production costs for process potatoes grown in New Zealand mean that yields of at least 70 t/ha are needed to achieve a sustainable profit, yet the national average is only 55 t/ha. Computer modelling predicts yields of 90 t/ha are possible most years in New Zealand. This issue has led to a 3-year study (2015–2017), funded by industry and involving the New Zealand[Read[Read More…]

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Role of inoculum source on Rhizoctonia disease development

Understanding the contribution of seed tuber- and soilborne inoculum of Rhizoctonia solani AG 3-PT in causing black scurf disease epidemics is an important step in implementing effective management strategies for the pathogen, according to potato specialists in the potato producing country of South Africa, one of the biggest producers of potatoes on that continent. According to team lead, Prof Jacquie vanderWaals at the University[Read[Read More…]

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An app to smartly identify plant pests and diseases

Modern technology put to practical use for potato growers: A smartphone app (now also available online) developed by The James Hutton Institute in Scotland can help with disease identification in the field. Identifying potato diseases can be complex and difficult, as most potato growers and even experienced agronomists know very well. Enters a smartphone application developed in Scotland to ease the identification of potato[Read[Read More…]

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Agrico showcases new late blight resistant potatoes

“This is my 30th season at Agrico, but I have never experienced something like this.” That is how Jan van Hoogen opened the annual varieties and seedlings presentation at the Agrico Research’s breeding and research station in the Netherlands last week. The Managing Director of Agrico was referring to the driest summer and autumn since 1976. “This is having a[Read[Read More…]

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Scientists discover new virus infecting potatoes

A new species of the genus Potyvirus infecting potatoes was discovered by scientists working at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) in Edinburgh. In a recent scientific paper they are proposing the name “Potato yellow blotch virus” (PYBV) to identify the virus in future. It was discovered in a potato breeding line. Plants infected by the virus show isolated yellow blotches on the leaves.[Read[Read More…]

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Researchers shine a light into the mechanisms of potato late blight infection

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute, in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Huazhong Agricultural University, Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences (both China) and Wageningen University (Netherlands), have shed further light into the mechanisms through which the potato blight pathogen interacts with plant cells to promote disease. Late blight played a major role in[Read[Read More…]

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Guide: How to sample soil for potato cyst nematodes

Potato cyst nematode costs the British potato industry more than £25m each year and accurate soil testing is a critical aid in managing the pest to minimise crop losses. At low levels of infestation, crops show no symptoms and the danger is that populations could thrive, reaching levels that can be difficult to manage. Therefore, knowing if the pest is present[Read[Read More…]

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EU: Brussels bans fungicide and insecticide in addition to diquat

The EU Commission this week confirmed it was withdrawing approval for diquat – a major herbicide used as a desiccant by potato growers. It cited the high risk of farm workers, bystanders and residents to diquat, as well as a high risk posed to birds. Farmers Weekly in the UK reports today that approval was withdrawn at the same time for[Read[Read More…]

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The changing face of Potato Cyst Nematodes in Britain

Potato Cyst Nematode infestation is a major constraint on the British Potato industry and costs upwards of £25m each year, according to Rob Clayton, Strategy Director Potatoes at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). He says the make-up of the national PCN population in Britain is changing, and nematodes are moving into areas that they have not previously inhabited.[Read[Read More…]

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Potato virus: More farms put on suspect list in New Zealand

Eighteen farms are now on the suspect list for a new potato virus, Biosecurity New Zealand says, and testing has been widened to the North Island. The Potato Mop-Top Virus, or PM-TV, affected potatoes used to make chips. It was found for the first time in New Zealand on two properties in Canterbury last month. But the latest industry stakeholder update showed that[Read[Read More…]

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New guide to help growers in the UK test for feared nematode

AHDB Potatoes has launched a new guide to help growers test for Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) – a pest that costs the industry over £25 million each year.  Potato cyst nematode is the most important potato pest in the UK and has the potential to cause substantial yield losses. The release of PCN: Sampling and laboratory guide draws on AHDB-funded research conducted by Science[Read[Read More…]

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Potato specialists publish updated report on management of mop-top virus

A new report on potato mop-top virus (PMTV) was published by Dr Andy Robinson, Potato Extension Agronomist at North Dakota State University/University of Minnesota, and colleagues at NDSU, Prof Neil Gudmestad, Shashi K.R. Yellareddygari and Owusu Domfeh. The latest report includes a table with 63 potato cultivars indicating if they are sensitive to insensitive to infection by the virus. Once[Read[Read More…]

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NZ govt and industry on the case with potato virus

Biosecurity New Zealand is investigating how potato mop-top virus (PMTV) could have entered the country. The agency was working with Potatoes New Zealand after the crop disease was discovered in potato tubers in Mid Canterbury, Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) incident controller David Yard said. Two properties had tested positive for the disease, which had never before been found in New[Read[Read More…]

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Experts shed light on pink eye disease of potatoes

Pink eye is a disorder of potato tubers that can cause costly storage losses for potato growers and can reduce tuber quality to the point where tubers will be rejected by potato processors. Pink eye not only directly affects tubers, but also makes tubers more susceptible to diseases such as Pythium leak, bacterial soft rot, pink rot, and Fusarium dry[Read[Read More…]

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Potato virus found for first time in New Zealand

A damaging potato crop virus could have a serious impact on the potato industry if not contained, an expert says. The potato mop-top virus (PMTV) has been discovered in New Zealand for the first time on two farms in Canterbury on the South Island. The virus causes a defect in the potato that means it can’t be processed for potato chips and[Read[Read More…]

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Late blight expert: ‘How do you disarm Phytophthora?’

Plant breeders regularly claim to have developed a new potato variety that is resistant to the harmful micro-organism Phytophthora infestans (see inset). By cross-breeding they have introduced a resistance gene that they think will keep the little fungus-like pathogen out. But Francine Govers, professor in Phytopathology and a leading expert on Phytophthora, never makes these kinds of claims. She knows that the stubborn pathogen cannot[Read[Read More…]

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Late blight update issued for the UK

According to Dr James Cooke at the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, having experienced one of the driest seasons since the Fight Against Blight began – clearly the weather has had a major impact. “After some early appearances on discard piles in Kent in mid-April, we have received very few recorded outbreaks compared to previous years. This has allowed us[Read[Read More…]

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How to manage pink rot in potatoes

This pathogen thrives in saturated soils, so the disease is often associated with low spots in the field or in areas of poor drainage. Disease incidence is greatest at temperatures between 70°F and 85°F. You may not notice pink rot until harvest or when the tubers are in storage, but it starts in the field. Infections often originate at the stolon[Read[Read More…]

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US scientists identified new mefenoxam resistant late blight strain

According to Amanda J. Gevens, Associate Professor & Extension Vegetable Plant Pathologist at the Dept. of Plant Pathology, UW-Madison, a new late blight strain type, US-25 has recently been identified in New York State. According to Prof Gevens, this strain has, to this point, been found only on tomato. In a weekly newsletter, she says that Dr. Christine Smart, Professor[Read[Read More…]

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Nemathorin: Online calculator assists British growers with date check for potato harvest interval

Potato maincrop harvesting is set to get underway in Britain, following a season of extreme heat and drought. Where establishment was significantly delayed, growers are being reminded to check the pre-harvest interval from the date of planting, to desiccation and lifting, advocates Syngenta Potato Technical Manager, Michael Tait. After the use of Nemathorin, there is a 17 week (119 day) minimum interval[Read[Read More…]

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PVY-resistant GMO potato variety approved by Argentine authorities

Argentine authorities have officially approved the commercialization of a genetically modified PVY-resistant potato variety. The transgenic potato, named TIC-AR233-5, will help growers avoid losses from the virus. The virus can result in yield declines of up to 70%, according to Argentina-based Tecnoplant, which holds the marketing license. The potato will also help growers to use fewer agrochemicals in its cultivation, the company said. The Health[Read[Read More…]

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Canadian farmers caught up in fight over chemicals

It’s fair to say that Canadian farmers are feeling a little shell-shocked after not one, but two, decisions in the space of one week that could fundamentally change their access to chemical control. First was the California jury’s decision to award US$289 million to a man dying of cancer after deciding his exposure to the commonly used herbicide glyphosate contributed to[Read[Read More…]

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Tobacco rattle virus in potato explained

Corky ring spot is becoming more economically important across several potato production regions in the U.S. largely due to the spread of tobacco rattle virus (TRV) and because of restrictions on the use of current chemical control options. Potato specialists at NDSU/University of Minnesota recently published a factsheet explaining the influence of TRV on potato production. They note that tobacco rattle[Read[Read More…]

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Heavy rain, humid conditions and threat of potato blight forecast for Ireland

Unsettled weather conditions are in store this week for Ireland with a mixture of sunny spells, heavy rain, rising temperatures and humid conditions expected countrywide, according to Met Eireann. The national meteorological service has reiterated its Status Yellow warning that current conditions are conducive to the spread of potato blight – which it expects is “likely to develop” in parts of west Ulster later today (August[Read[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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