Idaho potato industry makes progress against diseases

The head of Idaho’s potato seed certification program says growers appear to have made progress in controlling bacterial ring rot challenges, and their potato virus Y infection rates seem to have flattened. Alan Westra, area manager of the Idaho Crop Improvement Association, based his observations on early numbers from ongoing seed certification testing. In 2014; following a ring rot flare-up; Idaho implemented rules governing the devastating pathogen, including mandatory testing of seed lots seeking certification or re-certification. The association has zero tolerance for ring rot, rejecting any seed lots in which the disease is found. Officials also seek to trace the origin of infections. Westra said ring rot laboratory testing and field inspections eliminated 1,700 acres from the certification program in 2015. He said results from 64 percent of 2016 seed lots required to undergo testing are in, and just 10 acres have been eliminated. So far, it’s down considerably from what it has been in the last three years, Westra said. “Hopefully, it’s due to the fact that we’ve been testing, plus the industry at large is doing a better job between all of the other testing that’s done outside of the program and a greater attention to sanitation.” Capital Press