New pest and disease threats and pesticide losses through legislation and resistance development are cross cutting issues across our Scottish crops at the moment and potatoes are no exception, according to a report published in The Scottish Farmer.
The cooler climate in Scotland means a reduced risk of aphids and hence a reduced risk of viral infections in seed potatoes produced in Scotland. But there are plenty of other indigenous and exotic potential threats to potato health.
The long list of potential invaders on the UK plant health risk register includes things like root-know nematodes, Zebra chip, brown rot or Colorado beetle, which are subject to extensive statutory plant health checks and legislative measure to reduce the chances of them ever establishing in the UK.
Some of the indigenous problems are also subject to statutory control measures to try and minimise their spread – virus in seed crops being one risk managed through statutory inspection schemes to maintain the high health status of Scottish seed crops.
Potato cyst nematodes (PCN) is another and is one of the very major issues which the Scottish potato industry wrestles with currently. The use of nematicides, such as Vydate and Nemathorin, can reduce the risk of PCN feeding damage but is expensive and carries user and environmental risks, so their use is subject to careful stewardship measures and approvals are under constant review.