UK: Hot potatoes under Alternaria attack

Heat stress under record seasonal high early summer temperatures could trigger increased risk of an initial Alternaria attack in potato crops. Plants suffering from lack of moisture could prove more susceptible to pathogen infection, whilst soil moisture deficit will inhibit the uptake of nutrients, which could further stress crops during rapid canopy growth. Research has shown that stress is a key factor in enabling initial infection of Alternaria alternata to take hold in plants. Affected crops are believed to be more susceptible to the later infection of more devastating A. solani strains of the pathogen, according to Syngenta Potato Technical Manager, Douglas Dyas.  “Successive years of Alternaria leaf tissue testing by NIAB has revealed the A. alternata strain to be the first to appear, typically starting in late June,” he reported. “But the current weather conditions could trigger earlier infection, particularly in susceptible varieties if they are under stress.”  Continue reading

Australia: New techniques catch potato pests on the hop on Kangaroo Island

Image result for aphid potatoSeed potato growers on Kangaroo Island are adopting a new strategy to manage the aphids and thrips pestering their crops, taking on expert advice from agronomists and entomologists to adopt integrated pest management for these insect pests. In January 2015, Kangaroo Island seed potato growers and agronomists invited Dr Paul Horne and Angelica Cameron from IPM Technologies to help them improve their pest management and control the most important pests of seed potato crops: the aphids and thrips that vector potato leafroll virus and tomato spotted wilt virus. Following a successful trial by several growers that achieved control of insect pests with only minimal use of soft selective insecticides, and no application of broad-spectrum products during the life of the crops, the technique spread in popularity among the island’s industry. In the 2016-17 season, the majority of the island’s seed potato growers implemented some form of IPM across their farms to some extent.  Continue reading

Colorado State University receives funding for Dickeya study

Image result for dickeya potatoIt was announced this week that Colorado State University will receive $264,600 in funding from USDA to study the spread of pathogens including Dickeya. Dr. Amy Charkowski, head of CSU’s Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management, will lead the project. This grant is part of a $4.8 million investment from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to study important challenges in U.S agriculture. The National Potato Council (NPC) submitted a letter in support of funding this project, which is necessary in fighting the spread of a pathogen which can cause significant crop loss. (Source: National Potato Council)

Oro Agri offers late blight solutions to potato growers

Potato BlightIn May ORO AGRI International sponsored the EuroBlight 2017 Workshop for the first time and presented a paper in the “Control Strategies” session chaired by Huub Schepers from Wageningen University and Research. The workshop, organized by EuroBlight, the potato late blight network in Europe, took place in Aarhus, Denmark. The main objective of the event was to present and discuss results on integrated control of late blight and early blight. Tim Buchheim, ORO AGRI Business Development and Technical Support Manager, highlighted how two of the company’s products could offer new possibilities in late blight control. “PREV-AM, our flagship product, is a multipurpose insecticide and fungicide containing the active substance orange oil,” explains Tim. “Our other key product is the adjuvant WETCIT which incorporates TransPhloem technology,” says Tim. More

Developing wireless sensor technologies to fight potato rot in storage facilities

Image result for potato storageIn Idaho, potatoes are both a humble stereotype and a half-billion dollar crop. According to the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, every spring farmers plant more than 320,000 acres of potatoes valued at between $550-$700 million. Yet unbeknownst to most consumers, roughly 30 percent of the potatoes harvested spoil before they reach a grocery store shelf. Boise State University researchers Harish Subbaraman, David Estrada and Yantian Hou hope to change that. In a recently awarded one-year $413,681 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission (IGEM) grant, Boise State is collaborating with Idaho State University and commercial industry partners to develop a wireless sensor network that would be able to detect temperature, humidity levels, and carbon dioxide and ammonia levels in real time in storage facilities, to help with early detection of potato rot. The cloud-enabled sensor system will feature three-dimensional hot spot visualization and help predict on-coming rot or deteriorating quality of stored potatoes. Continue reading

US: Aerial stem rot, blackleg and tuber soft disease reported in Michigan potato fields

tuber soft rotAerial stem rot, blackleg and tuber soft rot of potato have been found in fields in MIchigan. Tuber soft rot results in rotting tissue that is mushy, slimy and water-soaked. Soft rot of the potato seed piece can occur following planting and results in poor emergence or create foliar symptoms) such as weak plants with curled and drooping leaves that often resemble wilt disease or water deficiency. Aerial stem rot symptoms appear as black lesions that are produced on infected stems. Blackleg symptoms appear as black lesions at the base of the stem and can quickly girdle the stem as they expand upward. Unlike tuber soft rot, infected plant stems have a black appearance. More

International disease summit will focus on dickeya, pectobacterium

Image result for dickeya potatoTwo bacteria threatening the potato industry worldwide will be the focus of a Potato Disease Summit, November 9th in Bangor, Maine, convened by the University of Maine. Plant pathologists, researchers and scientists from The Netherlands, Scotland and five U.S. states will present the latest information on dickeya and pectobacterium. In the past three growing seasons, dickeya blackleg disease has caused significant economic losses in seed non-emergence and crop loss nationwide. In addition, an associated pathogen, pectobacterium, has caused potato crop losses in the field and in storage. The bacteria have caused losses to the potato industry in Europe for an even longer period. The Potato Disease Summit will be 8 a.m.–5 p.m., on November 9th at the Cross Insurance Center, 515 Main St., Bangor, Maine. This summit is for scientists, consultants, regulatory officials, potato seed growers and buyers. Registration deadline is Oct. 2 and is available online. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call Steve Johnson at 207-554-4373, or e-mail him at

Foliar potato diseases: Early blight

In this video, Dr. Jeff Miller of Miller Research in Rupert, Idaho provides a a brief explanation of Early Blight in potato and how to manage the pathogen. Dr Miller says that early blight usually starts at the bottom of the plants and works its way up. He further says that early blight is often closely related to the nutrition of the crop, and that good fertility can delay the onset of the disease significantly. Watch video

US: Neonicotinoids losing efficiency in potato psyllid control

Neonicotinoid insecticides losing efficiency in potato psyllid controlThe potato industry may be losing a mainstay in the battle against psyllids, according to a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study. Ada Szczepaniec, AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo, said while there may be varying degrees of resistance to neonicotinoid insecticides in populations of psyllids across Texas, her recent study indicates they’ve lost their punch. “We are able to provide strong evidence that these insecticides no longer suppress populations of psyllids below desirable levels,” Szczepaniec said. “However, there may be some measures to help in this ongoing battle against the .” Szczepaniec said the study, funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture, indicates applications of neonicotinoid insecticides at planting, which are a considerable cost for producers, should be replaced with investments in post-emergence applications of insecticides other than neonicotinoids. More

Videos about potato production

Image result for netafim drip irrigationWe have recently created a separate category on Potato News Today where our readers will find links to a number of YouTube videos, mostly about matters related to potato cultivation. Please visit this page of our site where you can choose to view videos on crop production; scouting for late blight on potato farms; how farmers apply unmanned aircraft (drones) to better their farming operations; scab resistance of potatoes; management of Rhizoctonia Solani; what potato storage facilities of the future will look like; and more

Research: Can vitamin B-1 supplementation control potato diseases?

A specific group of vitamins, the B group, may offer a new potential strategy to control diseases in crops. Recent laboratory research in tobacco, grapevine, rice and cucumber has shown that application of vitamin B-1 prepares plants to fight off pathogen attacks more rapidly and efficiently. This mechanism is called priming and can somewhat be compared to vaccination in humans. Researchers at Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agricultural Research & Extension Center tested the potential use of vitamin B-1 to prevent PVY buildup and spread of the virus in potato. The research was recently published in the American Journal of Potato Research and was partly funded by the Oregon State University Agricultural Research Foundation. More

Australia: Perfect potatoes go to waste over psyllid pest

Potato farmers Trevor Barker and Colin Ayres with potatoes destined to become cattle feed.Seed potato growers have started dumping the first of their perfectly good potatoes as interstate borders remain closed after the detection of the tomato potato psyllid pest in WA. Albany grower Trevor Barker said he had fed around 60 tonnes to his cattle and had another 250 tonnes which would likely follow in coming weeks. His neighbour, Colin Ayres, who is president of the WA Seed Potato Growers Association, expects he will need to dump his first batch within two weeks from a total 1500 tonnes stockpiled. Seed potatoes are worth between $650 and $1100 a tonne, depending on variety. Growers would also soon need to decide whether to plant a crop for next year amid the uncertainty about whether their produce could be sent interstate. More

North America: Guarding against Dickeya

With clean seed recognized as the best defence against this new blackleg-causing pathogen, the demand for Dickeya testing is growing fast. After triggering major crop losses in the United States, Dickeya has been dominating the potato meetings circuit in North America for the past year or two. In Canada, some of the discussions revolve around the consequences for growers should the new disease makes its way into this country — but some industry experts maintain Dickeya is likely already here. “I don’t know what the extent is [in Canada], but we found Dickeya in samples that were sent to us from Ontario and from New Brunswick,” says Gary Secor, professor of plant pathology at North Dakota State University (NDSU). “I think that certainly the potential is there for Dickeya to be present and I think the Canadian farmer should be aware of that and take it seriously.” More

Blackleg in potatoes – Rapid haulm destruction key to blackleg control

Although the exact origin of the bacteria that causes blackleg hasn’t yet been pinpointed, they get into the soil and appear to multiply on plant roots.Over the past few seasons, blackleg has been the thorn in the side of Scottish seed producers, who otherwise are producing seed of the highest quality. In recent years, levels of blackleg have mysteriously begun to increase, with the disease now the number one reason for down-grading or failure of seed stocks.The inevitable question is ‘why is this happening?’, says Prof Ian Toth, research theme leader at the James Hutton Institute. To try and understand the issue, AHDB Potatoes and SASA jointly funded a three-year project to identify the routes of blackleg contamination. The point where levels of the bacteria responsible for blackleg, Pectobacterium atrosepticum (Pba), reached their highest levels coincided with haulm desiccation, which indicated that the method of haulm destruction may have a critical bearing on the potential levels of blackleg infection, he says. The discovery that blackleg can develop through the contamination of roots and doesn’t require a contaminated seed tuber means that even very high quality seed is at risk from picking up infection during the same season. More

France profits from impact of Guatemalan potato moth in Spain

Taking advantage of the impact of the Guatemalan potato moth, a very harmful pest that has settled down in the north of Galicia and part of Asturias, France is selling large volumes to distribution channels in the area. Producer organizations and agricultural unions have noted how, over the last few weeks, Galician supermarkets have apparently been selling a lot more French potatoes, although they are packed in Galicia. The official data corroborate that feeling. Last year, France exported 518,000 tonnes of potatoes to Spain, almost 5% more than in 2015. It is the highest figure ever since the Spanish Federation of Associations of Producers and Exporters of Fruits, Vegetables, Flowers and Plants (Fepex) keeps records. In 2013, when there was no record of the pest, the figure reached 425,000 tonnes. Back then, French potatoes accounted for 60% of all imports arriving in Spain, while now this percentage has reached 71%. More

Tomato potato psyllid: Insect found outside Perth quarantine zone on three commercial properties

Tomato potato psyllid has been found outside the Perth quarantine areaIn a significant blow to the vegetable industry in Western Australia the tomato potato psyllid has been found in three regional locations outside of the Perth quarantine zone. The Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) chief plant biosecurity officer John van Schagen said he now suspects the psyllid could have been in the state for two or more years. “Seeing it is right across the metropolitan area and now those regional areas it could mean that it’s been here for two or more years,” he said. It was found in Australia for the first time in early February when it was discovered in a Perth vegetable crop. Tomato potato psyllid is an exotic plant pest which feeds on tomato, potato, capsicum, chilli, tamarillo, sweet potato and solanaceous weeds like nightshade, leading to loss of plant vigour and yield. More


New webcast helps potato growers avoid devastating powdery scab outbreaks

Powdery scab is a difficult disease to manage and can be potentially devastating to susceptible potato varieties under certain environmental conditions. The Plant Management Network has released a new presentation entitled “Practical Management of Powdery Scab” to help professionals reduce the likelihood of infections with a comprehensive management approach including disease avoidance, cultivar resistance, soil testing, proper irrigation, and chemical applications. The webcast, developed by Robert D. Davidson, professor and Extension specialist at Colorado State University, discusses the importance of learning to recognize: Environmental conditions that favor infections and spore mobility; relative risk of an outbreak through field history and soil testing; and potato cultivars resistant to lesions and root galls. The 21-minute presentation will remain open access through June 2017 in the Focus on Potato webcast resource. More

Australia: Psyllid pest a threat to agricultural exports

Southern Forests produce is stuck in Western Australia after the detection of an exotic pest forced the region’s growers into lock down. While the tomato potato psyllid has been detected across 25 properties in the Perth area, it has not been detected in regional areas. New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland have introduced movement controls on WA produce, including potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Department of Food and Agriculture chief plant biosecurity officer John van Schagen said potatoes from WA could not be shipped interstate under interim movement controls. There is not only concern for the psyllid but the bacterium, which causes the zebra chip disease, making potatoes unmarketable. The bacteria has not yet been discovered with the psyllid in Australia. Southern Forests Food Council produce coordinator John Kilrain said DAFWA needed resources to stop the pest spreading. More

Canada: New products available for potato growers in 2017

Aprovia fungicide is a new alternative for the control of verticillium wilt. Aprovia Top fungicide combines difenoconazole (FRAC Group 3) with Solatenol (FRAC Group 7) in order to control alternaria-caused early blight and to suppress alternaria-caused brown spot. Potato growers now have access to a new biofungicide called Double Nickel, which controls white mould and early blight as a foliar spray. United Phosphorus offers its new Elixir fungicide, recently registered in Canada and created exclusively for potato production. Orondis Ultra provides long-lasting protection against potato late blight using two modes of action. Valent has applied for a spring 2017 minor registration in Canada for the use of Presidio fungicide for suppression of pink rot. Already known as an effective product against early blight, Quash is a fungicide composed of metconazole, from the triazole family (Group 3). Bayer expects its herbicide Sencor STZ to be registered in the spring of 2017. On November 16 Bayer announced Canadian registration of Velum Prime, a non-fumigant potato nematicide. More

New tool could mean faster tests for Zebra chip disease

A new portable diagnostic tool for identifying the devastating zebra chip disease may bring faster and more accurate results to stem its spread, according to New Zealand scientists. Zebra chip is a bacteria which alters a plant’s metabolism and burns striped patches in potatoes, making both the potato and its seed inedible and unmarketable. According to Dr Grant Smith who is a plant pathologist with the Plant and Food Research institute in New Zealand has been developing the tool as current tests were not accurate enough. “Because they’re relatively new pathogens we don’t know an awful lot about it so we don’t understand quite what the genetics, what the population structure is, of this bacterium,” Dr Smith said. According to Dr Smith, the new technology would also be portable and cut waiting times from two-three days to roughly 30 minutes. More

Eastern States ban imports from Western Australia after pest found

After the discovery of a destructive pest known as the tomato potato psyllid at a Perth farm, Eastern States banned the import of produce from Western Australia in order to quarantine the problem. With the Federal agriculture officials in Canberra alerting overseas trading partners, growers and exporters fear foreign markets could be lost. The State Agriculture Department has placed at least one Perth farm in quarantine. The Department of Agriculture raised the alert last week after the tomato potato psyllid was found on a commercial capsicum crop. It is the first time that the bug has been detected in Australia and officials are taking it seriously as it is said to be a big production pest in countries where it is present, such as the US and New Zealand. Beyond attacking crops, the pest can act as a host for bacteria that damages potatoes. More

US: Interpreting post-harvest test results

Seed certification is a quality control program that consists of a number of components intended to ensure that specified quality standards are met. One of the more important of these components is post-harvest testing. Post-harvest testing may consist of an off-season grow-out in the field or greenhouse, laboratory testing, or some combination of these. The vast majority of Idaho seed lots are post-harvest tested in a winter grow-out conducted in Waialua, Hawaii. This grow-out consists of a visual assessment of grower-submitted samples for  potato leaf roll virus and a laboratory test of harvested leaves for potato virus Y (PVY). While the process of post-harvest testing and the reporting of results is relatively straightforward, we do occasionally receive questions about why reported post-harvest test results differ from what is observed in the field the following season. This has been a particular issue with PVY levels observed in some seed lots. Why does this occur? More

UK: PCN picture looks better with ICM approach

Pete LeggNorfolk potato grower, Pete Legge, believes he has finally got a handle on PCN control, with a switch to Nemathorin in combination with a comprehensive ICM agronomy programme that is seeing long-term egg counts declining – along with reduced effects on the growing crop, yield and tuber quality. At the core of the farm’s approach has been a greater focus on soil testing – and tailoring the crop’s agronomy to the results. That has included seeking out clean land, extending rotations, adopting resistant or tolerant varieties, split field cropping and better targeted use of a nematicide. “We are now sampling all potato fields – both our own and long-term rented land – on one hectare grids, and using GPS technology to build up  a better picture and understanding of the PCN populations,” he reported. “We have even started doing some pf:pi counts, pre and post cropping.” Armed with the knowledge of PCN levels, he says they are better able to adjust cropping and variety selection to individual field situations, even to the extent of taking fields out of the rotation if PCN populations are too high, or being more selective in fields that are rented. More

New disease crosses the Atlantic

Soon after their spuds were planted in 2014, some growers in the northeastern United States knew they had a problem. Much of the crop didn’t even emerge. Growers were looking at stands of only 40 percent, said Steve Johnson, an Extension crops specialist with the University of Maine. Soon, wilting and blackleg-like symptoms began to appear in affected fields. But this didn’t act like regular blackleg. The mystery pathogen was more aggressive. “It looked like blackleg on steroids,” Johnson said. It turned out to be dickeya dianthicola, a seedborne pathogen that’s new to the North American potato industry but has bedeviled European growers for decades. During the past two years the disease has been detected in several states, mostly in the Northeast. D. dianthicola has caused significant losses to some commercial spud growers in the region, Johnson said. In some cases, farmers have left entire fields unharvested. More

Canada: Approvia label expanded to include major potato diseases

Syngenta Canada Inc. has announced the expansion of the Aprovia fungicide label to include additional soil-borne diseases affecting potato production, including Verticillium wilt, one of the main contributors to potato early dying. Potato early dying is a complex and economically significant disease that is widespread across many growing areas, but difficult to identify and effectively manage. Verticillium enters plants through the roots and move into the xylem – the plant’s water and conducting vessels – where they disrupt nutrient and water mobility. This causes plant leaves and stems to wither and die-off several weeks earlier than they would at normal maturity. Potato stems heavily infected with Verticillium stand out in a field above the canopy of uninfected plants. More