Over 40 potato growers and agronomists met at AHDB Potatoes’ Welsh Potato Day near Haverfordwest on 2 February to exchange technical knowledge aimed at producing the perfect crop. Pembrokeshire is renowned nationally for producing high-quality potatoes using an eco-friendly farming system, where potatoes are usually grown in rotation with grassland. This method has many benefits including maintaining healthy and nutritious soil, but the grassland is attractive to wireworm, a pest that causes damage to potato crops. Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles (Elateridae), live for several years in the soil, and can drill deep holes into potato tubers. Left untreated, this can leave a potato crop completely unsaleable resulting in big losses for the grower. Puffin Produce, a Pembrokeshire potato company, has helped sponsor a PhD student at Swansea University to conduct research on managing the pest. Ben Clunie addressed the event on the various biological ways of tackling wireworm that he has studied during his first year. These include using natural enemies such as fungi and nematodes, essential oils and pheromone traps. Download the full presentations from the event here
In a new study published in the American Journal of Potato Research on potato black dot disease, entitled “Potato Black Dot – The Elusive Pathogen, Disease Development and Management“, scientists Dennis A. Johnson, Brad Geary and Leah (Lahkim) Tsror say black dot caused by Colletotrichum coccodes was initially considered a mild disease of potato, mainly infecting weakened plants. In the past two decades however, the fungus has been reported to infect roots and stems relatively early in the growing season, be prevalent on potato and in field soil in major potato production regions of the world, cause early death of foliage by itself and in association with other pathogens, reduce plant and root growth, and to reduce potato yields, as well as causing unsightly blemishes on tubers. The scope of this research paper is to define our current understanding on the disease and summarize disease management strategies. An abstract of the study and instructions to obtain the full paper can be found here.
Agrico was exhibiting at Fruit Logistica in Berlin from Wednesday 7 to Friday 9 February 2018. During this leading international trade fair, Agrico, together with its subsidiaries, showed its future orientated growth power. Many years of intensive breeding efforts have resulted in Agrico being the first company to offer a complete package of phytophthora resistant varieties, the company says in a press release. In addition to their extremely high resistance to late blight these varieties offer outstanding consumption traits and good yields. This package allows Agrico to offer its customers a sustainable and diverse range with a variety of flavours, appearances and processing options. The package of varieties with high phytophthora resistance consists of Carolus, Alouette, Twinner, Twister, the recently introduced variety Levante and the new starch variety Nofy. Press release
Bangladesh is the world’s seventh-largest producer of potatoes. Most of the crop is grown by small-holder farmers. To help small-holder farmers, the Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership based at Michigan State University in the US, is using the tools of biotechnology to develop a genetically engineered potato resistant to late blight disease. The Partnership will develop and bring to market a three-R gene late blight resistant potato to smallholder farmers in Bangladesh and Indonesia. By growing a disease-resistant variety, farmers will be able to reduce their use of fungicides and improve their yields, which means more money in their pockets at harvest time. Small-holder farmers anticipate better harvests with LBD-resistant potatoes. Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury recently reaffirmed the government’s support for genetically engineered (GMO) crop technologies to ensure sufficient food for the people of Bangladesh. More
Brand new chemistry to tackle foliar and stem blight in UK and Irish potato crops has been approved. A fungicide called Zorvec Enicade made by DowDuPont has shown strong performance in domestic trials and has delivered robust control across three continents where it is already available to growers. The product delivers 10-day persistence following application, which is three days more than current practice permits with other blight fungicides. Craig Chisholm, UK field technical manager for DowDuPont, said: “Spray intervals of up to 10 days will be something new for growers to consider but we feel they will immediately see the benefit of added flexibility, plus the opportunity to reduce one spray pass when this 10-day strength is utilised in a spray block.” More
The findings from on-farm trials could help combat a deadly potato disease that causes around £26 million worth of damage to crops in the UK each year. According to demonstrations carried out by AHDB Potatoes and Harper Adams University, the use of fluopyram, previously used as a fungicide, as a nematicide provided a yield increase to a range of potato varieties at a farm with very high levels of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN). The findings come after on-farm trials were held in Shropshire during the 2017 growing season that looked in greater detail at the control of PCN. The aim is to improve the tools available to growers and agronomists for dealing with infestations. The results were announced at AHDB’s Strategic Potato (SPot) Farm West results day in late January, to an audience of more than 60 growers and agronomists. Continue reading
In the April 2016 issue of Spudman magazine, Donna Delparte, assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences at Idaho State University (ISU) in Pocatello, spoke about her research into using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, for pest management in potatoes. “They are very much the future, especially when we’re working on trying to expand the technology and look at new and novel ways to use UAV, such as crop-invasive species,” Delparte said. Recently, at this year’s Idaho Potato Conference in Pocatello, Jan. 16-18, Delparte gave growers an update on the status of her work, specifically on using an unmanned aerial vehicle to spot PVY infected plants and to record their specific locations for later control measures. In short, the technology works, but while it’s getting closer to being ready for the market, a few challenges still exist. Delparte said her team is conducting more trials and looking at building their own camera that could detect PVY but not carry the $50,000 price tag that a full, hyperspectral camera does. More
A team of Harper Adams University researchers, Dr Matthew Back, Dr Ivan Grove and Bill Watts, are working in collaboration with Leeds University and Barworth Agriculture to improve the accuracy of the ‘AHDB Potatoes potato cyst nematode (PCN) pallida calculator’ which is currently used as an educational forecasting tool for UK potato growers. To help growers to formulate control strategies, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) Potatoes created the ‘PCN Calculator’ for the most troublesome species, Globodera pallida. The calculator enables PCN population dynamics and potato yields to be forecast for different potato varieties grown under a range of conditions and control strategies. However, the current calculator needs modification and additional data sets to keep up to date with recent advancements in our understanding of PCN biology, shifting varietal trends and new management practices. More
The Colorado potato beetle is notorious for its role in starting the pesticide industry – and for its ability to resist the insecticides developed to stop it. Managing the beetle costs tens of millions of dollars every year, but this is a welcome alternative to the billions of dollars in damage it could cause if left unchecked. To better understand this tenacious pest, a team of scientists from 33 institutes and universities, led by University of Wisconsin-Madison entomologist Sean Schoville, sequenced the beetle’s genome, probing its genes for clues to its surprising adaptability to new environments and insecticides. The new information sheds light on how this insect jumps to new plant hosts and handles toxins, and it will help researchers explore more ways to control the beetle. “All that effort of trying to develop new insecticides is just blown out of the water by a pest like this that can just very quickly overcome it,” says Schoville. “And it’s just fascinating from an evolutionary perspective.” More
This presentation by Dr Andy Robinson at North Dakota State University (NDSU) shows many physiological disorders of potatoes. These disorders can cause minor or major losses in tuber quality. They can be difficult to identify and replicate. This presentation was given at the recent 2018 Manitoba Potato Production Days meeting in Brandon, Canada. Dr Robinson is Extension Agronomist and Assistant Professor at NDSU. Dr. Robinson’s areas of responsibility are in Extension and research for potato production in North Dakota and Minnesota. View the presentation as pdf file.
To grow any crop successfully, you need to have a handle of what pests may be threatening that crop and how to identify them, whether it’s insects, diseases, or weeds. And potatoes are no exception. Rob Spencer, commercial horticulture specialist with Alberta Agriculture, says an upcoming workshop will help producers do just that. Watch an interview with Rob Spencer on YouTube (2:11 mins). There are two Potato Pest Management workshops—March 6 in Sherwood Park, March 8 in Lethbridge. The registration deadline is February 27. To register, call 1-800-387-6030. For further information, contact Caitlynn Reesor at 780-422-3981.
According to a news report by Capital Press, zebra chip disease control costs farmers in major potato-growing areas in the US – in particular the Northwest – nearly $11 million each year, said Gina Greenway, business and accounting assistant professor at the College of Idaho. Greenway is also working to quantify zebra chip’s effects on potato quality and developing a cost-benefit analysis of different insecticide spray regimes. “Incremental reductions in spray applications can have a significant impact,” she said. Depending on environmental conditions, the variety of tools provided by the research will give growers the ability to make informed decisions when and if an application is necessary, she said. That has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of controlling the psyllids that spread zebra chip, Greenway said. “It’s just such an expensive problem,” she said during the Washington-Oregon Potato Conference in Kennewick, Washington State. More