Idaho researcher helps set up Kenyan spud seed test

Jonathan Whitworth spent much of last summer helping one of the major certified potato seed providers in Kenya establish laboratory testing to back up visual field inspections for diseased plants. Now Whitworth, a research plant pathologist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, hopes the Kenyan potato industry will reciprocate by sending breeding cultivars he saw in their fields with late blight resistance, as well as some other virus-resistant lines. Upon arriving in the U.S., Whitworth explained the cultivars would have to remain in quarantine, undergoing tests for up to a year and a half to confirm they’re clean. He’ll also search for brown rot-resistant material in his own breeding cultivars to help the Kenyans address one of their common diseases. More