Pests and Diseases

Progress in the fight against potato wart: CFIA and PEI potato industry’s joint efforts outlined

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Prince Edward Island (PEI) potato industry are collaborating to combat the spread of potato wart, a critical initiative for the nation’s economy. CFIA says in a press release it is seeking feedback on key Risk Management Documents to shape a new National Potato Wart Response Plan. Initiatives include a tool to identify restricted areas for potato growers and a comprehensive guide on movement requirements and biosecurity. The latest survey reveals no new instances of potato wart on PEI.

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New threat to potatoes: ‘Potato rugose stunting virus’, a newly characterized potato virus

A new virus, Potato Rugose Stunting Virus (PotRSV), causing severe symptoms in potatoes, has been identified in Peru according to a report on the EPPO Global Database. This virus had also been intercepted on potato in the Netherlands and in the USA. The virus was first noticed in the 1990s and caused an uncharacterized disease in cultivated potatoes in Southern Peru. Further research has classified the virus into the Torradovirus genus.

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Uniting forces: Europatat issues global call for information on projects aimed at wireworm control in potato production

Europatat, the European Potato Association, has made a global appeal for collaborative action against the spread of wireworms, a notorious pest impacting potato crops worldwide. Recognizing wireworms as a persistent threat causing substantial economic losses, the organization calls on researchers and industry experts worldwide to reach out and share details on ongoing or envisioned projects and initiatives aimed at the management of wireworms in potato production.

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USDA funds Potatoes USA-backed research for sustainable pest control alternatives

The USDA has funded a Potatoes USA-backed project to find alternatives to neonicotinoids, used for 25 years in potato farming. Facing environmental and retailer concerns, this “Potato IPM” project aims to develop non-neonic pest strategies, create decision tools, study socioeconomic impacts, and encourage grower adoption. Potatoes USA’s committee secured significant industry support, continuing its history of advancing sustainable potato farming practices with this groundbreaking initiative.

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Why late blight management in Britain just got more complicated for 2024

A late blight genotype that is resistant to a second fungicide mode of action continues to spread through Europe, meaning British potato growers will need to take extra care when planning control strategies next year. The Fight Against Blight (FAB) monitoring initiative, which looks for genetic changes in the late blight population and its sensitivity to key fungicides, delivered its latest results at the 2023 British Potato event (BP2023).

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Innovations and insights at the Ontario Potato Conference and AGM: Must-attend events for potato industry professionals

The 2024 Ontario Potato Conference, organized by Dr. Eugenia Banks and the Ontario Potato Board, is set for February 29th in Guelph. Featuring a Late Blight Symposium and a growers’ panel, the conference will address 2023’s challenges and strategies for 2024. The event includes a Trade Show with new tech exhibitors. The Ontario Potato Board’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Dec 6 will feature a special zoom presentation by Dr. Nora Olsen on tips for managing compromised potatoes in storage.

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MSU researchers spearhead $6 million project for eco-friendly potato pest control

A team led by Zsofia Szendrei at MSU received a $6 million USDA grant to develop sustainable pest management strategies for U.S. potato farming, moving away from neonicotinoids. The team will explore alternative management solutions in lieu of using neonicotinoids. This grant was initiated through discussions with growers and potato industry representatives who highlighted the need for a project like this in 2020. The project, involving experts across various fields, will explore alternative insecticides and long-term industry impacts.

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Empowering growers: New machine predicts weed emergence for precision herbicide application

The University of Idaho’s new thermogradient table allows scientists to study the impact of temperature on weed emergence, aiding the development of models to optimize herbicide application timing. The research, led by Albert Adjesiwor and doctoral student Chandra Maki, will provide growers with data-driven insights to tackle herbicide resistance by applying preemergence herbicides more effectively based on local temperature conditions, improving weed control across the Pacific Northwest.

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Combatting late blight: Microbial solutions for farmers unveiled in upcoming webinar

CHAP and Bactobio are hosting a free webinar, “Potato Late Blight: Microbial Solutions for Farmers,” on December 4th, 2023. This event features experts discussing innovative strategies against potato late blight, covering topics from bioinformatics to soil microbiome studies. Aimed at farmers, researchers, and agronomists, the webinar addresses various challenges and possible solutions. Registration is now available on Eventbrite. The insights gained here could be instrumental in shaping future farming practices and strategies in the fight against potato late blight.

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Potato cyst nematodes threaten Scottish seed potato industry’s future

The UK potato farming sector, worth approximately £4.5 billion, is threatened by potato cyst nematodes (PCN), particularly in Scotland where 77% of Great Britain’s seed potatoes are produced. Dr. James Price of The James Hutton Institute, managing the Scottish PCN Working Group, highlights in the GB PCN Forum Newsletter the challenges posed by PCN, including drastic yield reductions and difficulties in control. Scottish legislation prohibits growing seed potatoes in PCN-infected land, yet PCN affects nearly 21,000 ha in Scotland.

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Kenyan scientists developed new GM potato variety free from late blight disease

Kenyan researchers have engineered a blight-resistant GM potato, potentially transforming agriculture by increasing yields and minimizing pesticide use. The “Global Biotech Potato Partnership” project has shown promising results in confined field trials across Uganda, Kenya, and Nigeria. The collaborative project, after promising trials, anticipates boosting harvests from 10 to 40 tonnes per hectare. Awaiting regulatory approval, this innovation could significantly enhance food security and sustainability, marking a major advance in biotech crops.

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Syngenta Canada unveils new all-in-one fungicide and insecticide for potatoes

Syngenta Canada has announced the launch of Cruiser Maxx Vibrance Potato, a fungicide and insecticide seed treatment designed to combat a wide range of pests. The all-in-one formulation is said to simplify seed treatment, offering both insect protection and control against primary potato diseases. The product, which will be available for the 2024 growing season, also contains Thiamethoxam, a Group 4 insecticide, for defense against early-season insect pests. The company promises best-in-class Rhizoctonia control.

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Maine’s battle with PVY: Aroostook Farms Field Day highlights virus strains, control challenges

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension showcased a potato study at Aroostook Farm, revealing how different PVY strains affect crop health and marketability. The field day highlighted the subtle symptoms of the dominant PVY-NTN strain, challenging traditional control methods. Experts recommended early crop oil application and systemic insecticides in grains to combat the aphid-spread virus, emphasizing integrated pest management to protect Maine’s potato industry.

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Innovative biopesticide development: Renaissance BioScience and Certis Belchim enter partnership

Renaissance BioScience has partnered with Certis Belchim to create a sustainable biopesticide using innovative RNA interference technology. Their joint development agreement focuses on developing a yeast-based RNAi biopesticide targeting a specific agricultural pest. This collaboration aims to produce a highly effective plant protection product that balances crop safety with environmental and biodiversity conservation.

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‘From superfood to super crop’: Univ of Idaho researchers find promise in quinoa as rotation crop to curb PCN

Researchers at the University of Idaho have identified quinoa, often hailed as a “superfood,” as a potential solution to the pale cyst nematode (PCN) infestation plaguing potato farmers in eastern Idaho. Quinoa, which has seen a surge in cultivation in the region, functions as a “trap crop” by stimulating the PCN to hatch without providing a viable host. This reduces the nematode’s viability in the soil. While another plant, the litchi tomato, has shown even greater effectiveness in combating PCN, it lacks the economic advantages of quinoa.

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‘A perfect storm’: UK potato growers battle rising wireworm threat

The UK potato industry is under threat from wireworms. A surge in risk factors has made conditions ideal for these pests. Experts advise growers to assess wireworm threats and adapt cultivation strategies. Early harvest potato varieties and specific cultivation choices can mitigate risks. Three beetle larvae species are the main concerns. Dr Ben Clunie at Harper Adams University explains the pest’s life-cycle and delves into two new control methods that could potentially be on the horizon.

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How effective and safe are current-generation pesticides?

An article by Kayleen Schreiber and Marc Brazeau at the Genetic Literacy Project explores the safety and efficacy of modern pesticides. It highlights a significant reduction in pesticide use per unit of food and fiber and per capita, credited to increased food production yields since 1985. While toxicity remains a concern, levels have decreased, and biodegradability has enhanced. Both organic and conventional farming use pesticides, but modern ones are less toxic and more environmentally friendly. The article series emphasizes understanding pesticide risks amid rising global food needs.

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Chemotherapy, thermotherapy and cryotherapy: New Zealand scientists unveil innovative methods to eradicate PVS, PVA, and PVM viruses

New Zealand scientists have developed a groundbreaking method to eradicate Potato Virus S (PVS), Potato Virus A (PVA), and Potato Virus M (PVM) from in vitro-grown potato shoots. The study, published in “Frontiers in Plant Science,” revealed that combining chemotherapy and cryotherapy was highly effective in producing virus-free potato plants. This advancement is vital for the potato industry, ensuring a supply of healthy planting material. The findings address New Zealand’s plant biosecurity concerns and have global implications for potato farming.

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Revolutionizing PCN management: The power of solanaceous trap crops unveiled

CHAP, one of four UK Agri-Tech innovation centres in the UK, is set to present groundbreaking research on solanaceous trap crops (STCs) for managing potato cyst nematode (PCN) at an event on October 31, 2023, in Woodbridge. The DEFRA-funded DeCyst project will showcase two innovative STC products and discuss their integration into crop rotation. The free event, featuring experts from Produce Solutions and Harper Adams University, promises insights into sustainable farming alternatives to traditional chemical solutions.

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Innovative potato disease detection: The potential of hyperspectral imaging

Researchers at Wageningen University & Research explored the use of hyperspectral imaging (HSI) to detect early infections of Phytophthora infestans in potato crops. This pathogen often spreads through seed potatoes with latent infections. Traditional methods, like manual inspection and models based on spectral data, have limitations. The study used HSI to contrast the spectra of infected plants with healthy ones under similar conditions. Experiments revealed the potential and challenges of this technique, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive approach.

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A leap forward in potato protection: The rise of advanced PCN trap crops

A new feasibility study, funded by Defra and Innovate UK, aims to enhance trap cropping’s effectiveness against potato cyst nematode (PCN) challenges. The research focuses on DeCyst solanaceous trap crops, which disrupt the PCN lifecycle, reducing their impact on potato yields. Collaborators include Produce Solutions, CHAP, Harper Adams University, and VCS Potatoes. The goal is to identify optimal species and agronomic practices to make trap crops more appealing to farmers.

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Navigating late blight challenges: EuroBlight opens registration for its 19th Workshop set for May 2024

EuroBlight has commenced registration for its 19th workshop, scheduled from 13-16 May 2024 in Lunteren, Netherlands. Hosted at “de Werelt” conference centre, the event will focus on late blight control strategies, host resistance breeding, and precision agriculture. With a cap of 100 participants, priority will be given to presenters. The workshop will also address the significant late blight epidemics from 2023. Registration details are available on the EuroBlight website.

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Bayer introduces new crop protection products for potatoes in Canada

Bayer’s Crop Science division has launched two new products for Canadian potato growers: Emesto Complete and Velum Rise. Emesto Complete offers broad-spectrum protection against pests and diseases, while Velum Rise, a fungicide/nematicide, focuses on maximizing crop quality and yield. Both products underscore Bayer’s commitment to providing innovative solutions for potato farming and will be available for the 2024 growing season.

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Meet CIP-Matilde: The potato ‘knocking the spots off late blight’

The International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru introduced a new potato variety, CIP-Matilde, designed to resist late blight disease of potatoes. Late blight caused a global loss of $6.7 billion in 2022. CIP scientists have delved into the genetic makeup of wild crops to develop this blight-resistant variety. CIP-Matilde offers hope to farmers, especially in the Andes. Its benefits extend beyond Peru, with its derivatives being shared in African countries like Kenya, aiding millions in their livelihood.

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Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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