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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News

Behind the Scenes: Potato Late Blight, There’s Blight on the Wisconsin Landscape!

Blog 26

Late blight caused the Irish potato famine in the 1840s and 1850s.

This disease and its related problems caused massive hunger, starvation and poverty, resulting in mass emigration from the region.  This disease is still a concern today.

The fungus which caused the Irish potato famine is still active today.  It was identified in Portage County just last week.  It can cause serious problems for potato, tomato, eggplants and other solanaceous crops today.  Phytophthora infestans (“infests”) is the cause of potato late blight.  It is a fast moving, community disease that growers, home gardeners and garden center managers must take seriously and properly manage to ensure a healthy, adequate food supply.

There are many concerns for Wisconsin vegetable growers every year whether farmer or home gardener.  Weather, growth problems, pests, water, market demand—but one pest problem, foliar or leaf blight, is especially challenging.  This can commonly attack tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cucumbers.  These diseases cause perfectly healthy appearing green plants to break out in brown spots, turn yellow and die prematurely.  Many home gardeners run to their local garden center for a remedy.  But by the time leaves begin to yellow and the brown spots appear the disease may have progressed to a point where there is no stopping it.

On the farm, vegetable growers face the same threat from foliar blights every year.  Potato and vegetable growers in Wisconsin have worked closely with University of Wisconsin researchers for decades, to understand the science behind that makes these blights tick.  Through research, we have developed and implemented innovative disease management strategies to both avoid and combat plant disease problems.

What farmers are managing and attempting to control through our pest management programs is a very persistent fungus.  Growers start by ensuring that all seed is clean and disease-free to prevent the introduction and spread of the fungus onto their farm and into their fields.  The first step is often to reduce the threat of infection.  Blights are caused by the fungal spores and most can survive over winter in soil on decaying vegetation.  Growers take great care to rotate their crops away from the previous year’s crops, planting them in disease-free areas.  By practicing crop rotation we avoid the threat of early season infection from overwintered spores.  We are also careful to avoid moving fungal spores from field to field by washing and sanitizing equipment when moving between fields.  Farmers also reduce the risk of losses by using disease resistant varieties.  Our plant breeders select varieties with the ability to resist various diseases whenever possible (seed catalogs often include disease resistance in their descriptions of varieties).

Despite farmer’s best efforts, nature has a way to combat our disease-free management plans and efforts.  We know that sooner or later, with the right conditions, spores will be carried on the winds to susceptible vegetables and disease control will be needed.  Early detection of the spores helps keep the controls to a minimum without sacrificing crop yields.  Farmers achieve this by knowing everything possible about the specific fungal spores through research and science.

Crops are carefully inspected every week.  Growers are now on the verge of using cutting edge DNA assays to identify individual spores before they can even begin to infect plants!  Researchers can assess the precise needs of the foliar blight spore for water and temperature and then develop sophisticated prediction models that allow growers to deploy precise control measures.

By WI state law, growers, homeowners and/or garden centers are required to properly dispose of any signs and sources of late blight before the start of each growing season.  Any and all left over potatoes, not destined to market are destroyed every year by April 15th..

Growers use a sophisticated weather and disease forecasting model that indicates when growers should begin applying crop protectant materials to limit late blight from developing in fields.  This forecasting model (Blight cast,) calculates disease severity values, which accumulate when conditions are right for disease development, usually during high temperatures, high humidity and rain.

Late blight can cause devastation to crops and home gardens across the state.  Growers will proactively destroy large portions of fields if late blight is found.  This is the only effective way to stop the disease from spreading as the fungus survives only on living tissue of a host plant.  The disease spreads easily and losses will be even greater if left uncontrolled.  Growers are also concerned about spreading the disease spores as they move from field to field.  To mitigate this, farmers routinely sanitize all equipment, even their boots, before entering fields to avoid spreading the fungal spores.

Late blight is a community disease.  Growers actively discuss blight occurrences throughout the region.  UW-Madison Plant Pathologist Amanda Gevens sends out state-wide updates on when to expect problems (based on conditions reliant on modeling).  Research alerts, reports and updates are communicated to growers regarding locations the disease has been documented and the severity of the outbreak.  She actively discusses late blight concerns with local media to ensure that the general public is aware of the potentially devastating effects of this serious disease.

Blog 8 Picture

Like farmers, gardeners are encouraged to destroy garden areas immediately if infection is found.  This action prevents the spread and protects other homeowners as well as local farmers from this disease.  In recent years, one source of the late blight fungus is tomato plants sold in local garden centers and farmers markets.  It is critical that the public is aware of late blight and the associated risks.  We must realize that this is a community-wide problem, which requires everyone who grows plants that can host late blight to be watchful and ready to act!  Our food security is too important to be placed at risk by failing to act quickly.  The Irish had little knowledge of what the disease was in the 1800s and no weapons to fight it and the resulting famine had tragic global consequences.  The disease is still with us and science has now provided us with the tools to fight it and it is essential that everyone in the community work to prevent the infestation and its spread.

Because of proper pest control programs, consumers have access to reliable, nutritious foods at affordable prices while the environment benefits with fewer but more effective controls being used.  Battling foliar blights is an ever-evolving process that requires continued investment by growers and researchers.  The security of our food supply in key production areas such as Wisconsin’s Central Sands is a valuable a resource and we need to work together to manage our risks.  

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Disease Supplement #2

Disease Supplement #2

Disease Supplement #2

Read full update.

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Wisconsin Late Blight Update

The late blight collected from potato in Portage County on Friday July 18, 2014 is of the US-8 genotype/strain.

This type is resistant to mefenoxam/metalaxyl fungicides (ie: Ridomil) and is an A2 mating type.
While all other Phytophthora infestans genotypes from the U.S. in 2014, so far, have bee US-23, the US-8 type predominated in the 1990′s and was found in Portage County in 2013.
US-8 is known to infect both tomato and potato (much like the US-23 genotype).

At this time, it is important for potatoes and tomatoes in the Portage County area (plus roughly 50 miles radius) to be preventively managing late blight with effective fungicides. Anti-sporulant fungicides are particularly useful at this time. A 5- to 7-day spray interval is recommended. For production further away from this site, a 7 day program should be appropriate.

There is rain in the forecast for Tues for parts of the state – and then more precipitation forecasted for the week’s end.

Regards,
Amanda

Dr. Amanda J. Gevens
Assistant Professor
Extension Plant Pathologist in Potatoes & Vegetables
University of Wisconsin
Department of Plant Pathology
1630 Linden Dr., Rm. 689
Madison, WI 53706-1598

Office Phone: 608-890-3072
Fax: 608-263-2626
gevens@wisc.edu
http://www.plantpath.wisc.edu/wivegdis/

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Vegetable Crop Update #14

Vegetable Crop Update #14

Vegetable Crop Update #14

Read full update.

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | Tater Talk

Tater Talk – July 18, 2014

Tater Talk - July 18, 2014

Tater Talk – July 18, 2014

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | What's Cookin

July 2014 What’s Cookin’

July 2014 What's Cookin'

Summertime means potato salad season is here. Try these tasty recipes at your next picnic as featured in our July 2014 What’s Cookin’ column.

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Posted by WPVGA | Badger Common'Tater Interviews | In the News | News

Interview with Haven Baker

Interview with Haven Baker

The J.R. Simplot Company is both a pioneering potato processor and food company. With over 60 years in the potato business, Simplot believes there are a number of significant areas where biotechnology can benefit many of the entities that make up the potato food chain.

With the introduction of their new Innate™ potatoes, Simplot believes that seed growers, farmers, processors and consumers can all benefit from reduced black spot bruise, low asparagine, and slow degradation of starch to sugars during storage.

Read more of our July 2014 interview with Haven Baker.

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Posted by WPVGA | News

In the July 2014 Badger Common’Tater

Managing Colorado Potato Beetle Insecticide Resistance: New Tools and Strategies for the Next Decade 

Neonicotinoid insecticides have been the most common management tool for Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), infestations in cultivated potato for nearly 20 years. The relative ease of applying neonicotinoids at planting coupled with inexpensive, generic neonicotinoid formulations have reduced the incentive for potato growers to transition from these products to other mode of action (MoA) groups for early-season CPB control. Continuous use of neonicotinoids has resulted in resistant beetle populations in some production areas of the eastern United States. Continued reliance on neonicotinoids will only accelerate resistance development and result in additional insecticide inputs to manage these populations. Resistance management recommendations for CPB have focused on rotation of insecticides within the growing season. Growers using at-plant neonicotinoids for early-season beetle control are encouraged to rotate insecticide modes of action (MoA) for later generations to delay resistance development. Although this short-term insecticide rotation has likely prolonged the utility of neonicotinoid insecticides, reducing reliance of a single MoA soil application at planting will improve the longevity of newer, more reduced-risk alternatives. Get the full story in the July 2014 edition of The Badger Common’Tater.

WPVGA Water Task Force Delivers:

Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduling Program 2012: Free training!

Irrigation scheduling is an important tool to ensure the crops have adequate soil moisture while reducing the amount of ground water pumped and controlling energy costs. It can also help to protect groundwater quality by reducing deep drainage that removes nutrients and pesticides from the crop root zone.  A new free web-based irrigation tool, WISP-2012 – Wisconsin Irrigation Scheduler Program,  has been developed to automate some of the operations for Irrigation Scheduling such as recording daily ET, calculations of adjusted ET and setting allowable depletion set points for various fields on your farm.

The tool also forecasts the soil moisture one to two days in the future to help plan future irrigation needs.  For more details, read the July 2014 issue of The Badger Common’Tater.

Kids Dig Harvest Party

There were two schools selected to receive Kids Dig Wisconsin Potatoes Harvest Parties this year.  One of the winners was Joanne Hagen’s 5th grade class at Meadowview Intermediate School in Sparta.  The other was Highland School in Highland.

Highland School and Ms. Hagen’s 5th grade class at Sparta were randomly selected out of all of the classrooms that participated in the Kid’s Dig Wisconsin Potatoes program this year. There were over 100 schools participating in the program this year.

At the Harvest Party in Sparta on May 22, 2014, the children harvested several small, red potatoes.  Even though the potatoes were quite small, the students were very excited to see that potatoes had started to grow.  The class celebrated their harvest with games, including a potato sack race, a potato spoon race and a game of potato toss.  They then enjoyed mashed potato brownies and bags of the WPVGA’s promotional potato chips.

Check out the July 2014 Badger Common’Tater for more photos of the Kids Dig harvest party in Sparta.

Kathy Bartsch at Kids Dig Harvest Party

Kathy Bartsch hands out potatoes to students in preparation for the potato toss game.

 

Kids Dig Harvest Party

Marie Reid supervises this potato spoon race.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by WPVGA | Crop Updates | In the News | News

Vegetable Crop Update #13

Vegetable Crop Update #13

Vegetable Crop Update #13

Read full update.

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Posted by WPVGA | In the News | News | Tater Talk

Tater Talk – July 11, 2014

Tater Talk - July 11, 2014

Tater Talk – July 11, 2014

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