Pests and Diseases

Old foe on the attack: British growers warned against new, aggressive fungicide-resistant late blight strain

Potato growers in Britain are being warned to change their blight control strategies this season to combat the spread of an aggressive fungicide-resistant strain of the disease which has reached Suffolk. The dark green 37_A2 form of Phytopthora infestans has quickly spread across Europe, reaching England two years ago when five cases were reported. Around 20 cases were officially recorded in 2017,[Read[Read More…]

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Judge: US illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields infested with PCN

A federal judge ruled that the U.S. government illegally quarantined some Idaho potato fields infested with pale cyst nematode (PCN), a microscopic pest that could threaten the state’s $1.2 billion potato industry, but he left the restrictions in place. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge said last week that lifting the rules could lead to quarantines across a state that produces a[Read[Read More…]

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Canadian potato growers encouraged to participate in Zebra Chip and psyllid monitoring project

The Zebra Chip and Potato Psyllid Survey and Monitoring project in Canada is to survey fields for populations of the potato psyllid, and test captured potato psyllids and symptomatic tubers for the presence of the pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (Lso). It is coordinated by Dan Johnson, Larry Kawchuk, and Scott Meers. Zebra chip is a disease that severely disrupts carbohydrate flow[Read[Read More…]

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Far more toxic than glyphosate: Copper sulfate, used by organic and conventional farmers, cruises to European reauthorization

Recently, the European Union decided to reauthorize the fungicide copper sulfate, a popular pesticide among organic farmers that has a more toxic rap sheet than glyphosate. Copper sulfate is a widely used pesticide in organic farming but which also is used in some conventional applications, although the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) considered toxicity risks[Read[Read More…]

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Biostimulants: ‘Feeding a plant additional amino acid acts like a vitamin drink’

There’s no denying that crop protection is becoming an increasing concern for arable growers. From glyphosate to neonicotinoids many crucial controls have come up against scrutiny lately, leaving farmers in the dark about what may or may not be available in the years to come – on top of the increasing threat of chemical resistance. As a result, there’s been growing[Read[Read More…]

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Idaho potato growers prevail in pale cyst nematode case

A U.S. District Court judge this week ruled the federal government did not follow its own rules and regulations in formulating its pale cyst nematode (PCN) eradication program, which has regulated thousands of acres of farmland in eastern Idaho since the devastating pest was discovered in 2006. While he did not vacate the program, he gave it temporary status. The summary judgment[Read[Read More…]

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Wireworms a growing concern for the Canadian potato industry

Wireworm populations appear to be on the rise in Western Canada. Wireworm, which is the larval stage of the adult click beetle, affects many crops, including cereals and pulses, but they are particularly damaging to potatoes. Holes created by wireworms can render tubers unmarketable and serve as points of entry for potato pathogens. Few chemical controls are available across Canada. Following the deregistration[Read[Read More…]

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Researchers from the US, Indonesia and Bangladesh creating GMO potato to fight late blight

Researchers from the U.S., Indonesia and Bangladesh is creating a genetically-engineered potato to fight the late blight. The disease remains an issue for farmers worldwide, especially in Bangladesh, where many struggle with hunger. “Late blight is the number one constraint for potato production, and Bangladesh has a perfect environment for this disease,” said Jim Bradeen, co-director of the University’s Stakman-Borlaug Center[Read[Read More…]

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UK and Ireland: Broad-spectrum fungicide can now be used to control rhizoctonia in potato

Zoxis, a broad-spectrum fungicide from Arysta LifeScience, has been successfully re-registered for use in the UK & Ireland, and can now be used on a wider range of crops. Benefits of the product, which contains azoxystrobin, include control of diseases such as septoria, fusarium and rust, as well as promoting beneficial physiological and greening effects. It offers translaminar, systemic and protectant[Read[Read More…]

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Canada: University of Manitoba seeking candidates to study potato early dying disease

The laboratory for Applied Soil Ecology at the University of Manitoba in Canada (; Twitter @soilecologyUMan) is seeking highly motivated and talented candidates for training leading to MSc or PhD degrees. Students will undertake graduate research to limit yield loses from the disease, Potato Early Dying. Field research will be conducted examining treatments including fungicides, green manures, compost, and fumigation[Read[Read More…]

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Russia blocks two potato shipments imported from Egypt

Russia’s agricultural quarantine authorities flagged two potato shipments from Egypt that were found to be contaminated with potato brown rot. The Ministry of Trade and Industry in Egypt denied the allegation that Russia has imposed bans on potato imports from Egypt due to a lack of quality. He stressed that Russia has not placed a blanket ban on Egypt’s potato exports[Read[Read More…]

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Ban on Turkish potatoes due to fears of potato wart disease spread

The former Soviet republic of Georgia in the Caucasus region is reportedly banning the import of potatoes from Turkey for a three-month period because of the danger of the spread of potato wart disease (or black scab; potato canker). Georgia’s Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili has already signed this order. Potato wart is considered a most serious and devastating disease for potatoes. Synchytrium[Read[Read More…]

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PhD opportunity: ‘Applications of machine learning to precision potato blackleg prediction’

Among the most destructive of plant pathogens are the bacteria that cause blackleg and soft rot of potatoes. Several approaches have been studied to control blackleg, but the degree of success has been variable. This is because the processes underlying the establishment and spread of blackleg largely remain unknown. James Hutton Institute in the UK is now offering a unique opportunity[Read[Read More…]

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For the long haul: South Africa’s running potato pathology professor chasing after spud diseases

Jacquie van der Waals is not only a professor of potato pathology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa – she is also a recognized national 10km and cross country runner in that country. Yesterday she came third in her age group during the national sprint triathlon championships in South Africa. Other running achievements include being South African Cross[Read[Read More…]

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Caught in the act: Potato Virus Y rapid tests provide results within minutes

Potato Virus Y is commonly found in potato crops, and is regarded by many experts as one of the most damaging potato viruses, owing to its damaging effect on quality and the yield of a crop. Most common symptoms seen in the field will be due to secondary (tuber-borne) infection and include stunting, leaf mottling, crinkling, yellowing and necrosis. Current-season infection[Read[Read More…]

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Potato math: US student wins $250,000 prize for potato blight solution based on mathematical model

According to a CNN report, New York student Benjamin “Benjy” Firester has won one of the United States’ top young science prizes for his research on potato late blight. The 18-year-old senior at Hunter College High School beat 1,800 students in the race to the $250,000 first prize at the Regeneron Science Talent Search, which counts 13 Nobel Prize-winners among its alumni. Firester’s[Read[Read More…]

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Blackleg in potatoes: Rapid and effective haulm destruction key to blackleg control

Scientists are getting closer to discovering the origins of blackleg infection in potato seed crops. CPM magazine finds out the latest research findings and how Scottish seed growers are acting on them. Over the past few seasons, blackleg has been the thorn in the side of Scottish seed producers, with the disease now the number one reason for down-grading or failure[Read[Read More…]

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Pest quest: New program soon to be launched to monitor potato psyllids in Canada

A new monitoring and surveillance program will be launched in the spring of 2018 for potato psyllids in Canada’s Alberta province. Thomas McDade, agricultural director, Potato Growers of Alberta says this plan responds to the discovery of a very small number of potato psyllids that tested positive for the Lso bacteria (the vector for zebra chip disease) in late 2017.  Although follow-up[Read[Read More…]

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APS put spotlight on causal agent of potato zebra chip disease in latest Virtual Issue

The American Phytopathological Society’s latest Virtual Issue focuses on Candidatus Liberibacter, the causal agent of many important plant diseases such as citrus greening and potato zebra chip disease. It includes links to 26 articles published in the APS journals “Phytopathology”, “Plant Disease”, and “Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions” between 2016 and 2018. The collection includes papers on Post-harvest development of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’;[Read[Read More…]

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West Australia’s potato farmers pin hopes on negative psyllid tests to regain market access

Potato farmers in West Australia (WA) could see Eastern States’ markets reopen in the near future which are still closed to WA following the tomato potato psyllid outbreak last year. Potato Growers Association of WA chief executive officer Simon Moltoni said the potato industry and State Government were working through the Transition to Management Plan, with the aim to reopen market[Read[Read More…]

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Potato Cyst Nematode results: How reliable are yours?

So your Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) tests have come back negative. Good news…or is it? That largely depends on how the land was sampled and how the samples were analysed. Scottish Agronomy’s Eric Anderson warns that approaches vary enormously so results can be very misleading. The world of seed potato growing is relatively black and white with a statutory process that[Read[Read More…]

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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