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.
Pests and Diseases
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.
This op-ed article is by Dave Douches (PhD), professor and Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program and Director of the Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology Graduate Program at Michigan State University, and Project Director of the Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. “As a scientist working in potato breeding for over 40 years, one may wonder why I am talking about trust and critical thinking.”
Researchers will be testing genetically modified potatoes in Bangladesh and Indonesia this year in hopes of providing farmers with an alternative to spraying fungicides. Multiple confined field trials of GM late blight-resistant (LBR) potatoes will be conducted in both countries under a Feed the Future Global Biotech Potato Partnership. Late blight disease is a serious problem in both countries, destroying 25 to 57 percent of the crop.
AAFC scientist, Dr. Christine Noronha has been named one of seven 2022 Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture by Annex Business Media. It’s because of Dr. Noronha that an important invention for farmers in the fight against pesky wireworms, a common potato plant predator, bears her name. The NELT™ or Noronha Elaterid Light Trap designed by Dr. Noronha in 2016 is a major breakthrough for the industry. She discovered the world’s first planted-based approach to controlling wireworms.
British potato growers should switch to new Syngenta 3D ninety nozzles to ensure more timely blight applications this season – and achieve the best possible results, advocates the company’s application specialist, Harry Fordham. The 90% drift reduction nozzles create the optimum droplet spectrum for coverage throughout the crop canopy, including lower leaves and stems where micro-climate conditions can be particularly humid and conducive to blight infection.
Stress factors set to hit potato crops over the coming weeks could increase the risk of Alternaria (early blight) outbreaks, warns Syngenta Technical Manager in the UK, Andy Cunningham. Many British crops are still suffering the adverse effects of exceptionally low rainfall this spring, while the hugely inflated cost of fertiliser has seen potato growers cut back nutritional inputs to the bare minimum.
At times, potato growers may experience poor emergence of potato plants. There are number of reasons why potato plants may not emerge properly. Potato specialists Andy Robinson, Eugenia Banks and Steven B. Johnson have compiled a list of common problems that can cause poor potato emergence and stand. Utilizing this list can help growers more rapidly identify the cause and improve management of the crop and subsequent crops.
University of Idaho entomology doctoral student Kelie Yoho’s research suggests mineral oils could offer an environmentally friendly tool to help potato seed growers avoid losses to potato virus Y (PVY). U of I master’s student Nathan Gelles has studied promising methods to promote sprouting in freshly harvested potatoes.
Colorado potato beetle (CPB) populations have an amazing ability to develop resistance to insecticides — including many of the carbamate, organophosphate, pyrethroid, spinosyn, and neonicotinoid insecticides that are used today, writes Carrie Huffman Wohleb in this article. In essence, she says, these beetles are pre-equipped to deal with toxins. It may take only small changes to confer resistance to new toxins.
Researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island are beginning their search for a potato variety more resistant to potato wart following a provincial economic loss of 300 million pounds of potatoes. Xiuquan (Xander) Wang, a UPEI associate professor working on the project, said the funding from Genome Atlantic will go toward comparing the genes of different potato varieties.
Good news: the newest ‘high-tech tool’ for diagnosing crop disease is also man’s best friend — a friendly dog. Specifically, it’s a crew of five dogs trained by Andrea Parish of Dayton, Wyoming, owner of “Nose Knows Scouting.” Parish and one of her dogs, Zora, flew into Fargo, North Dakota, so that Zora could sniff her way through the North Dakota State University potato seed development program, looking for Potato Virus Y (PVY).
EuroBlight, a late blight monitoring network for Europe, is continuously examining the ongoing evolution of the European population of the potato late blight pathogen. Euroblight has now released a report detailing the results of the 2021 monitoring activities. Approximately 2500 samples from 26 countries were genotyped. According to the report, blight pressure in 2021 was higher than average across many parts of Europe.
The significant threat posed by potato cyst nematode (PCN) in many potato-growing areas is making variety choice a key component of a sustainable production system. As Louise Impey reports for Farmers Weekly in the UK, with nematicides facing an uncertain future, varieties that offer both resistance and tolerance to the dominant nematode species, Globodera pallida, are becoming part of the solution.
“The soft rot bacterium that causes seed piece decay is very common, and it has an extensive host range. It survives in soil and surface waters. Soft rot in potatoes is caused by Pectobacterium carotovorum subsp. carotovorum,” says Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board in Canada.
Powered by satellite data and powerful analysis models, ‘GeoPotato’ is designed to enable preventive spraying, easier crop protection decisions, and improved farmer incomes. GeoPotato was launched by Bayer as a geodata-driven early warning system for late blight in potatoes, and has entered a full commercial roll-out in Bangladesh. It could potentially reach as many as 1 million smallholder farmers in the coming years.
On March 29, Dr Jeff Miller from Miller Research in Idaho presented this webinar in collaboration with the Ontario Potato Board, coordinated by Dr Eugenia Banks and hosted by Potatoes in Canada magazine. A recording of the webinar is now available on YouTube.