A group of major potato businesses and public sector organizations, including the Scottish government and AHDB, is sponsoring a £242,000 (USD 313,000) research project aimed at reducing the impact of potato disease blackleg on the Scottish seed potato industry.
AHDB and the Scottish government joint-funded a project during 2013-2016 which provided significant new information on blackleg and its origins. It also highlighted areas where further investigation is required for improved management of the problem.
As a result, a second project will begin this September to identify the major routes of initial contamination of high-grade tubers and establish best practice for blackleg management.
“We hope that by determining the impact of post-harvest practices such as storage, grading and handling practices on the contamination of tubers we can set a platform for an industry-wide approach to tackling this disease,” says Sue Cowgill, senior crop protection scientist at AHDB. “The research may also identify the potential for new and innovative control options as part of the blackleg management tool kit.”
Scotland is one of the leading growers of seed potatoes in the world, producing 75 per cent of all seed grown in the UK. Scottish seed production underpins a domestic potato sector valued at £167 million and provides the foundations for GB production that has a retail value estimated at over £4 billion.
The project has been awarded to a consortium comprising the James Hutton Institute, SAC Commercial Ltd., Fera Science Ltd., Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), BioSS and Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR).
Financial and in kind support for is being provided by McCain Potatoes Ltd,. Greenvale AP, Cygnet Potato Breeders Ltd., Agrico UK Ltd., APS BioControl Ltd., HZPC, Caithness Potatoes Ltd., Branston Ltd. and Techneat Engineering.