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FreshPlaza

Publication date: 3/23/2015

eight_col_064_IS09AL1QZFarmer with basket of organic potatoes.

New research shows a plastic mesh cover laid over potato crops could be the answer to fighting potato pests without using chemical sprays.

Scientists at the Future Farming Centre and Lincoln University say field trials of the mesh cover is showing exciting results in controlling the tomato potato psyllid as well as reducing potato blight.

The psyllid arrived in New Zealand in 2006 and can cause severe crop loss through its bacterium.

Researchers Dr Charles Merfield said the trials over two growing seasons in Canterbury showed potatoes under the mesh covers had reduced numbers of psyllids, increased tuber size and an increase in overall yield.

He says the covers were widely used in other countries and he expected them to become popular in New Zealand.

“These mesh crop covers have been in use in Europe for probably nearly two decades now, so they’re very widely used over there for pest control, particularly amongst organic growers, so these strike me as being an ideal way of controlling psyllids on potatoes on field crops.

“We did some initial trials at the Future Farming Centre and we’ve got some very good results in terms of controlling psyllid – and we also got the surprise effect of a dramatic reduction in potato blight as well.”

Dr Merfield said the mesh could also control a wide range of pests on many different field crops and was being used by organic growers in Hawke’s Bay to control root fly on carrots.

Source: radionz.co.nz

http://www.freshplaza.com/article/137097/NZ-Mesh-cover-to-fight-potato-pests?utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_medium=ed5&utm_source=s1

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Fresh Plaza

University of Florida:
Scientist finding could help farmers stop ‘late blight’ in potato, tomato

A University of Florida scientist has pinpointed Mexico as the origin of the pathogen that caused the 1840s Irish Potato Famine, a finding that may help researchers solve the $6 billion-a-year disease that continues to evolve and torment potato and tomato growers around the world.

A disease called “late blight” killed most of Ireland’s potatoes, while today it costs Florida tomato farmers millions each year in lost yield, unmarketable crop and control expenses.

For more than a century, scientists thought the pathogen that caused late blight originated in Mexico. But a 2007 study contradicted earlier findings, concluding it came from the South American Andes.

UF plant pathology assistant professor Erica Goss wanted to clear up the confusion and after analysing sequenced genes from four strains of the pathogen, found ancestral relationships among them that point to Mexico as the origin.

“The pathogen is very good at overcoming our management strategies,” said Goss, a UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty member. “To come up with better solutions to late blight, we need to understand the genetic changes that allow it to become more aggressive. By understanding past changes, we can design new strategies that are more likely to be robust to future genetic changes.”

 

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