Seed potato farmers in Kenya’s potato growing regions are adopting promising technology with potential to boost quality seed availability. The farmers are using rooted apical cuttings as starter material for seed production as opposed to certified seed. The cuttings technology has been introduced in Kenya by the International Potato Center (CIP) under a programme funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). A cutting is similar to a nursery-grown seedling, except that it is produced through vegetative means and does not originate from a seed. Cuttings are produced from tissue culture plantlets in the screen house, rather than minitubers, and after rooting, are planted in the field. Each cutting produces 7 to 10, and up to 15+ tubers which are multiplied a further season or two, then the harvest is used and/or sold as seed. This means that the seed that farmers buy is equivalent to basic or ‘certified one’ seed in seed certification systems, and will produce high yielding crops. Currently the technology targets seed multipliers, but expanding to ware farmers. Continue reading
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.
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
Potato growers and industry in Canada gathered at the Fredericton Research and Development Centre for the Potato Selection Release Open House on Wednesday to learn about what new varieties are available for trial that could improve yields and taste — including a new variety that could improve the taste of French fries. The annual potato selection event was hosted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and gave potato producers the chance to learn about 15 new selections of what researchers are calling “promising potatoes.” The new varieties include five French fry potatoes, two types of spuds for those in the potato chip sector, six fresh market selections, and two potatoes with coloured flesh. Continue reading
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
EU-funded scientists have discovered genetic markers that could allow potatoes to be selected for their ability to be stored at low temperatures, keeping them fresh and avoiding the use of anti-sprouting chemicals. Potatoes used for crisps and chips are usually stored at eight degrees – a temperature high enough to prevent starch from breaking down into glucose and fructose. To slow sprouting, potato producers often use a suppressant like chlorpropham, a chemical the EU is looking to phase out due to health concerns. Hoping to find an alternative to chemical sprout suppressors, the EU-funded GENSPI (Genomic Selection for Potato Improvement) project has developed a genetic marker system to identify plants that display a resistance to glucose and fructose formation. Their tubers can be stored at three or four degrees, low enough to keep sprout growth at bay for very long periods. 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
Optimum potato growth and profitable production depend on many management factors, one of which is ensuring a sufficient supply of nutrients. When the supply of nutrients from the soil is not adequate to meet the demands for growth, fertilizer application becomes necessary. A comprehensive nutrient management program is no doubt essential for maintaining a healthy potato crop, optimizing tuber yield and quality, and minimizing undesirable impacts on the environment – in particular during irrigated crop production. High nutrient demand coupled with relative low native fertility often found in irrigated potato soils, can result in high fertilizer requirements for irrigated potato production. In an in-depth report on this topic, specialists Carl J. Rosen and Peter M. Bierman at the University of Minnesota provide several research based guidelines that will be of interest to growers and agronomists alike. View the full report
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.
Join Agronomist Steve Petrie and Jimmy Ridgway, Crop Manager-Potatoes Yara North America, for this free webinar as they share insights from extensive crop nutrition research and trials that Spudman magazine partner YARA has conducted. They’ll discuss technology, tools and services to help you grow your best crop yet. Jimmy Ridgway has worked in the crop nutrition business in retail, wholesale and manufacturer representation since 1984. Dr. Petrie has been Director of Agronomic Services for Yara in the western US since 2013 where he continues to conduct field research & promote the sound use of Yara products to increase crop yields and grower profitability while protecting the environment. More information and registration details for this webinar on Tuesday, February 13, 2018.
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