Pests and Diseases

Fight against powdery scab: South African researchers identified two ideal plant species for potato crop rotation

A study by researchers in the Potato Pathology Programme at the University of Pretoria identified oat and soybean as “ideal to be included as trap crops in rotations with potatoes”. This is a first study in southern Africa on alternative weed and cultivated hosts of the cercozoan Spongospora subterraneaf. sp. subterranea, which causes the potato disease powdery scab.

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Contributions needed to bring new late blight resistant potato variety to smallholder farmers’ fields in East Africa

The 2Blades Foundation, a non-profit research organization based in the Chicago area, is a principal sponsor of a research project that recently completed the development of a potato variety that is completely resistant to late-blight. 2Blades is seeking contributions to help bring this disease-resistant potato variety to market and fight hunger in East Africa.

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Neonicotinoid insecticide resistance: Practical guidelines for growers to test product effectiveness

All commercial potato growers are aware of the fact that some pests have been shown to develop resistance against some of the commonly used insecticides available to combat them. In a recent article published by Spud Smart magazine, renowned potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board in Canada, Dr Eugenia Banks, provides growers and agronomists with practical guidelines on how to conduct on-site tests to determine product effectiveness against Colorado potato beetles in their area and specific situation.

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Podcast: Tackling disease management and soil health

Disease-suppressive crops work in multiple ways: by not being a crop host to the disease, by actively lowering pathogen levels, and by boosting soil health so the overall growing environment is more resilient to disease. Robert Larkin, USDA-ARS research plant pathologist, joins Potatoes in Canada for this podcast to discuss the different ways crops can lower disease pressure, what farmers in Maine are doing, and all about soil health more broadly.

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Investigative Report: Potato production in Egypt – ‘Export demands increase interest in bio-pesticides’

GROPRO Corp. a US based producer and supplier of biological crop protection products, has recently completed a investigative agricultural tour of Egypt. According to the group of specialists from GROPRO, “We believe that bio crop protection products will play an important role in the near future to assist in developing the Egyptian potato industry – not only to improve the efficiency of crop production in general, but for farmers to attain better quality products and higher yields.”

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Gowan: ‘Unique mode of action in Electis suits late season use’

Hutton periods are now being recorded in England and the focus needs to shift to blight control in potatoes. Recent changes to the UK blight population over the last couple of years have revealed more dominant aggressive strains with higher spore production and faster life cycles. Coupled with the emergence of the fluazinam-tolerant blight strain 37_A2, this makes decisions around[Read More…]

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Potato blight warning issued across the UK

Potato growers across the UK should be on high alert for potato blight, following a period of warm, wet weather. Rain showers, coupled with warming temperatures have heightened the threat of the major potato disease across many of the UK’s key growing regions. The Blightwatch alert system, hosted by AHDB and the MET Office, has displayed red warnings since June 11 – indicating the highest level of blight threat – just as many crops are reaching the crucial rapid canopy growth stage.

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Potato blight warning issued for Ireland

“Well that’s just what we need,: read a post/news item on the , Irish Post today, Ireland has been through a lot lately. The open border between the North and Republic was under threat from Brexit, the country is constantly getting battered by some new storm, and its citizens have been under lockdown for close to three months now.

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Hyperspectral imaging for sustainable, more productive potato crops

Hyperspectral imaging, a growing area in remote sensing, holds the promise of providing a solution for crop monitoring over large areas, and scientists at the James Hutton Institute are working with partners in industry and academia to investigate the potential of the technology to maximise the sustainability and productivity of key food crops. The InnovateUK-funded project “In-field Optical Detection of Potato Disease” primarily explored the utility of aerial imaging (drone captured multispectral and high-res RGB) to detect and differentiate between a selection of economically important potato diseases.

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European potato growers hit with loss of another key seed treatment

Rhizoctonia control is set to become much more difficult for potato growers with news of a second seed treatment being withdrawn, just weeks after the loss of Monceren. EU regulators have recommended the withdrawal of penflufen, a fungicide contained in the powder seed tuber treatment product Emesto Prime DS. It is used to control Rhizoctonia solani, which causes stem and stolon canker and black scurf in potatoes.

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Pale cyst nematode: The USDA takes more comments on potato pest regulations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has re-opened a public comment period on changes to regulations of pale cyst nematode-infested areas, according to a report by Chris Koger of The Packer over the past weekend. Pale cyst nematodes (PCN) affect potato crops. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service took initial comments twice in 2019, and is accepting comments until July 6 “on the science supporting the protocols, including the sources of the methods informing their content,” according to a USDA news release.

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Why you should plan early for successful potato late blight control

It is of course already well known that blight is a constant threat and significant cost to potato growers. To offset blight, British potato growers should put plans in place as early as possible with their Basis agronomist to ensure a proactive approach is taken to prevent the disease, according to a report published by the Newsroom at Farming Life. In order to achieve putting less pressure on fungicides it is important that good Integrated Pest Management principles are applied for blight control. The most important thing when spraying to prevent blight is to start your programme early.

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Idaho spore-sampling network features upgrades

Brad Carlson of Capital Press reports that a spore-sampling network designed to detect airborne diseases before they impact southern Idaho crops has been enhanced this year, its third in operation. Faster detection and reporting, and the ability to find more types of disease that could threaten potatoes and other crops, are among the benefits.

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Podcast: Fungi destroy $60 billion worth of food each year. Are natural biopesticides the answer?

Food waste plagues both farmers and consumers. Americans throw out much of what we buy at the grocery store—roughly 133 billion pounds of food each year, or $161 billion worth, according to the USDA. On this episode of Science Facts and Fallacies by the Genetic Literacy Project, Jamie Bacher, molecular biologist and co-founder of biotech startup Boost Biomes, joins GLP editor Cameron English to discuss his company’s novel approach to battling pests and promoting sustainable agriculture.

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Flexible drift retardant designed for use with potato blight fungicides said to reduce drift and maximise coverage

A flexible drift retardant, specifically designed for use with blight fungicides, could play an important role in keeping potatoes disease free this spring, according to adjuvant and biostimulant experts, Interagro. Developed to help tackle the practical problems growers face, Crusade – from Interagro – is a flexible drift retardant specifically designed for use with all potato blight fungicides.

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Unique robot helps HZPC in the fight against diseases

HZPC is employing the services of a specialised robot in its fight against potato diseases and viruses within its breeding programme. In combination with marker technology, this supports the quicker development of resistant potato varieties so that lower levels of pesticides are required and crop losses are kept to a minimum. According to the Dutch potato company, disease resistant varieties are an important step towards worldwide food security and sustainable potato growing.

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Better potatoes post-harvest: Identifying diseases and engaging good management techniques

When the storage doors open and farmers look at their cured potatoes, they are hoping for high-quality spuds that will garner a fair price. Unfortunately, potatoes can be sneaky. Some don’t reveal problems until harvest, or worse, when they are already in storage. Determining which disease is present allows for better management and application of appropriate controls. However, treatments in potatoes vary and there are no silver bullets. Potato diseases work together to exacerbate each other, and pests help to increase disease risk.

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Canada: Prince Edward Island potato industry wants tomato growers to be ‘good neighbours’

Prince Edward Island’s Department of Agriculture has begun an education campaign to make sure gardeners understand the importance of growing blight-resistant varieties of tomatoes this spring. In 2015, there was a similar education campaign after a new aggressive strain of late blight devastated tomato crops the summer before. The strain, called US 23, primarily attacks tomatoes. But it’s also a concern for the province’s billion-dollar potato industry.

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Leading the battle against nematodes

New weapons in the battle against the pale cyst nematode — a major potato pest that has cost US farmers millions of dollars since it was found in southeast Idaho in 2006 — include an effective bio-fumigant and a surprisingly efficient “trap crop.” Researchers are also making progress in developing PCN-resistant potato varieties. “Understanding the biology allows us to target the weak point in the life cycle,” said University of Idaho Associate Professor Louise-Marie Dandurand, project director of the Globodera Alliance.

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A robust blight strategy more essential than ever as new blight strains continue to evolve

Control strategies for late blight are constantly developing as the pathogen causing the disease evolves and the available blight chemistry changes, either due to regulation or efficacy shifts due to fungicide resistance, according to independent agronomy company Farmacy Plc in the UK. Overcoming issues such as these is a key part of the Hutchinsons’ blight trials, first set up in 1997. The trial is managed specifically to test products individually under higher blight pressure than might otherwise be found in the field.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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