Four group members of The Shropshire Potato Growers Discussion Group in the UK are hosting trials on their farm this year looking at trap crops as a method of PCN control. For potato growers in the UK one of the biggest threats to production and sustainability are the potato cyst nematodes (PCN) (Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis) which can result in significant yield losses.
Pests and Diseases
In her column Tater Tales, published by Spud Smart magazine, Dr Eugenia Banks (Ontario Potato Board) is looking at three aspects of Canadian potato production — the risk of insecticide resistance in Colorado potato beetles (CPBs), “lazy” potato varieties which sprout unevenly, and bio-fumigation for soil health improvement.
SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), has partnered with precision farming company SoilEssentials and farmer-owned cooperative Grampian Growers to support the uptake of the innovative Tuberzone potato technology among growers from Angus to Aberdeenshire to the Black Isle. Part of SAC Consulting’s role has been to gauge more broadly how much support is required among farmers in taking on digital tools.
French Federation of Seed Potato Growers confirms efficient seed certification, despite COVID-19 and high incidence of aphids
In a press release issued by the French Federation of Seed Potato Growers (FN3PT), the organization says that the normal measures are in place to ensure efficient and high quality potato seed certification activities, despite the current COVID-19 situation, as well as an unusual incidence of of virus-transmitting aphids this season. FN3PT says field inspectors are fully mobilized to carry out the inspection work in accordance with the agreement between FN3PT and GNIS/SOC, the official authority for certification and phytosanitary matters for seed potatoes in France.
Guy Barnett, Minister for Primary Industries and Water, says the Tasmanian Liberal Government has made biosecurity a priority to protect the state’s reputation as a premium producer of agricultural and seafood products. Working closely with industry and the community, Biosecurity Tasmania has recently completed the first year of a three-year volunteer plant pest surveillance program called the ‘TPP Adopt-a-Trap-Survey’. Strict biosecurity regulations are in place to reduce the risk of entry of this pest to Tasmania.
Innovative Farmers, a not for profit membership network for farmers and growers in the UK, reports on a ‘field lab’ that explores the practice of establishing trap crops to control potato cyst nematode (PCN) – the UK’s primary potato pest. Currently, the main control option is to use nematicides hazardous to operators and the environment, which only prevent one season’s crop yield and do not prevent PCN increase. Innovative Farmers says an alternative cultural control method is the use of trap crops, which limit nematode multiplication and reduce existing soil PCN populations.
The University of Idaho and its crop consultant collaborators across the state are continuing the monitoring program for potato psyllids, zebra chip disease (ZC) and liberibacter (Lso), the bacterium associated with ZC. The monitoring program covers commercial potato fields throughout southern Idaho and is funded in part by the Idaho Potato Commission and generous in-kind contributions by collaborators.
Listen during this upcoming AHDB Potatoes webinar tomorrow (9 July) to what potato growers are planning across the AHDB strategic farm network. Through the week folks will have learnt about markets, research and commercial innovation – this session will discuss how this is being applied in the field and what growers can do to progress. Eric Anderson will offer an agronomist’s perspective on how we can build better strategies towards PCN management and the latest views on alternative approaches to virus control.
Growers and scouts in Canada can now download three scouting resources that will help them know when and what to scout for in potato fields. On May 21 and 28, 2020, Potatoes in Canada hosted a webinar series with Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, on how to scout pests, diseases and physiological disorders in potatoes. In addition to the webinar series, Banks has made her scouting resources available as PDFs for download.
AHDB Potatoes in the UK hosted a webinar with on these topics yesterday, the 7th of July. Participating presentations by Dr Bill Watts, Dr Marc Allison, Andrew Webster, Prof Ian Toth, Dr Jane Thomas and Dr Andy Evans.
A new group of helpful viruses which tackle the diseases which blight potato crops have been named Cork, the second largest city in Ireland. Colin Buttimer, the 31 year-old researcher who discovered ‘Corkvirinae’, said he is delighted to name the new viruses after where they were found. But more importantly, he said they have the potential for controlling potato late blight. The name Corkvirinae has now been ratified by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.
British potato growers can now access the latest blight forecasting information with launch of a new simple to use smartphone app by UPL UK & Ireland. The UPL Blight Forecast App, displays Hutton Period and Smith Period data, alongside additional layers of information such as leaf wetness and spray conditions. Once downloaded, users can identify and save multiple field locations by adding a pin in a satellite map.
Second growth is a physiological potato problem induced by prolonged air temperatures above 280C and water stress, according to Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada. These 2 factors interact to limit the tuber growth rate, thus causing second growth. Inadequate soil moisture alone does not result in the initiation of second growth.
Following the second wettest winter on record across Britain, dealing with crop trash and volunteers has been difficult to tackle in the field. This will lead to an increased inoculum reservoir and a heightened risk for development of alternaria and late blight this season. Technical Manager at UPL UK & IE, and potato crop specialist, Don Pendergrast discusses further.
As Europe moves to reduce its reliance on agrochemicals in the farming system over the next 10 years and beyond, a crucial question emerges: what replaces them? Agricultural biotechnology could provide the answer, writes Farhan Mitha in this insightful article published by Labiotech Insider. The use of agrochemicals — pesticides, fertilizers, and plant growth enhancers — has been crucial to humanity over the last century. Yet, their impact on the environment has become too profound to ignore, and they’re increasingly seen as 20th-century instruments that are ill-suited for 21st-century challenges.
‘Fight Against Blight’ resumes in Britain: Now accepting blight samples, reaching out to volunteer scouts
British potato growers are able to submit fresh blight samples for analysis again as the James Hutton Institute (JHI) re-opens its labs. AHDB reports that the news will be welcome to potato growers following a number of blight warnings around the UK in the last few days. JHI was previously unable to accept samples due to government restrictions. The service offers growers a chance to contribute to ongoing work genotyping strains of blight. It relies on ‘blight scouts’ submitting samples from potato crops.
Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada, yesterday took a picture of one of several spore trap devices in operation on potato farms in that region. Earlier this week Dr Banks reported in her regular email newsletter that most of the fields in central Ontario that were planted in early May are filling the rows, and she said tuber size is good so far. Dr Banks mentioned that more Colorado potato beetles (CPBs) than usual are observed by potato scouts in Ontario. She asks: “if insecticide resistance is ruled out, what could be the reason for seeing more CPBs this season?”
Late blight is the most destructive potato disease in the world. It affects all potato producers (small-scale, commercial, seed producers, even urban producers) and the annual losses in developing countries are estimated at EUR 10?billion. Toward this end, the International Potato Center (CIP), in partnership with research and development institutions in Ecuador and Peru, has developed a low-tech tool to help farmers optimize fungicide use.
Canadian growers and scouts can now download three scouting resources from the Potatoes in Canada website that will help them know when and what to scout for in potato fields. On May 21 and 28, 2020, Potatoes in Canada hosted a webinar series with Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, on how to scout pests, diseases and physiological disorders in potatoes. In addition to the webinar series, Banks has made her scouting resources available as PDFs for download.
Potato is a popular crop in Uganda with great potential for income generation and improving nutrition. So much so that the Ugandan government has declared potato a key crop for the country. In Uganda, International Potato Center (CIP) partners with the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) to release and promote improved varieties of potato and sweetpotato. NARO and CIP have developed a new version of the Victoria variety by adding three resistance genes (3R). The 3R Victoria potatoes are completely resistant to late blight.
On June 18 a crop consultant in Alberta told Eugenia Banks, Ontario potato specialist, that spore traps in the province had caught late blight spores. Ontario is going through a wave of hot and dry weather, and out west in Alberta, it’s the opposite with cooler, wet weather. In response to the discovery, of late blight in 2014, the Potato Growers of Alberta (PGA) supported a spore-trapping project. In Ontario, Eugenia Banks lead a two-year Ontario Potato Board project evaluating one type of spore trapping technology in order to help growers improve late blight management with good results.
The blight fungicide Percos (ametoctradin and dimethomorph) from BASF is one of the few blight fungicides which has a label recommendation for reducing tuber blight, according to a press release issued by BASF in the UK today. Percos is also said to have the benefit of being from a unique class of chemistry. “Percos is a vital part of any programme due to its unique activity on tuber blight brought about by the active ametoctradin as well as its unique mode of action and no cross resistance to most other fungicides,“ according to Paul Goddard, potato specialist for BASF.