Breeding

New Cornell lab will combat potato nemesis

The golden nematode is a small pest that packs a big punch. The tiny roundworms are considered by the United States Department of Agriculture “to be potentially more dangerous than any of the insects and diseases affecting the potato industry.” On Thursday, Cornell opened a new research lab to combat the invasive species.

The new Golden Nematode Quarantine Facility will allow scientists from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and USDA to develop modern strategies for protecting New York’s potato crop and preventing nematodes from spreading. The facility upgrades were funded with a $1.2 million state grant and $400,000 from the federal government.

“The research being done at the Golden Nematode Quarantine Facility is critical to the stability and success of New York agriculture,” Kathryn Boor, Ronald P. Lynch Dean of CALS, said in a statement.

“With the new state-of-the-art research equipment, we will continue to serve as farmers’ front line of defense against these invasive pests and be able to better mitigate new threats.”

The goal of the new Golden Nematode Quarantine Facility is to foster state-of-the-art research that will protect past containment efforts and prevent future outbreaks.  Nematodes are generally managed by planting resistant potato varieties and rotating crops that do not harbor the pest while quarantining crops from infested areas.

“We still need new, better varieties of golden nematode-resistant potatoes that are more accepted by our markets, which are potato chip markets,” Gary Mahany, a farmer and former president of Empire State Potato Growers Inc, said in a statement.

Read the full report in The Ithaca Voice here