Australia: Spud growers face ‘perfect storm’

Blackleg symptoms in a potato stem caused by Dickeya dianthicola.Potato growers in the region are bracing for a “perfect storm”, with farmers warned to be alert for signs of disease after a new bacteria was recently detected. The detection of dickeya dianthicola in a commercial crop north of Perth comes as local farmers try to adapt to newly deregulated markets and the loss of interstate exportation after another pest — the tomato potato psyllid — was detected in February. Jindong potato farmer Daryl Smith said the detection of new bacteria came at a difficult time for growers. “We have way too many spuds at the moment; the market is flooded,” he said. “Export has stopped because of fear we may have bacteria in our potatoes and now another potential blackleg disease, so it’s pretty tough. “I’m fairly sure there will be potatoes that just won’t be harvested.” More