AUG 19, 2021 9:00 AM PDT

Protect Our Potatoes on Potato Day

WRITTEN BY: Samantha Lott

Happy National Potato Day! Potatoes are a delicious part of many foods for people across the globe, but what do you know about potatoes? Potatoes grow underground, contain many vitamins and minerals, and are the fourth most important food crop worldwide producing more food per acre than all other food crops.

Not many people know about the challenges that farmers face when growing the massive numbers of crops we require. Many pests and diseases particularly affect potato plants that farmers must always be aware of. About 22 percent (65 million tons) of potato crops annually are destroyed by plant diseases and pests worldwide. Some of the forty-plus diseases include potato wilt disease from the Ralstonia solanacearum bacteria, blackleg disease from Dickeya bacteria, Potato virus X, Potato virus Y, Potato leaf roll virus, and Potato Wart fungus. Then there are all the insect and animal pests that also affect our potato crops. One of the common pests of potatoes that the USDA is constantly guarding against is the Pale Cyst nematode, Globodera pallida.

Though currently only in a small part of Idaho and Newfoundland, Canada, it could cause enormous problems for our potato production if the nematode spreads. The pale cyst nematode also attacks other plants in the potato family, like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. When left uncontrolled, the nematodes can cause a 20-70% loss of potato yields every season. The pale cyst nematode can survive in soil up to forty inches deep for more than 20 years, so making sure soil doesn’t move around is a top priority. The USDA has strict rules about transporting soils that could harbor destructive pests like the nematodes. All farm equipment should be pressure washed and or steam cleaned between farm sites to prevent the transmission of pests like the nematode.

   

Photo of root cysts courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service

A recent study evaluated the potential for seed meal extract from mustard plants to be used against the pale cyst nematode in combination with a trap crop, Solanum sisymbriifolium, known as litchi tomato or sticky nightshade. The scientists found that this combination of seed extract and trap crops effectively controlled the nematode. Both egg viability and egg hatch were dramatically reduced in both greenhouse and field settings when both methods were used. This joint methodology could be used to reduce the numbers of nematodes long-term and manage our future potato crops, so we can eat them for many years to come.

 

Sources: University of Idaho ProQuest Dissertation Publishing, USDA, USDA Best Practices, USDA AgResearch Magazine, Journal of Agriculture and Food Research, Physiological and Molecular Plant Pathology, Journal of Agriculture and Food Research

 

About the Author
  • A dedicated and passionate naturalist, nature photographer, and freshwater biologist.
You May Also Like
JUL 14, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Clearance of Southeast Asian Forests is Accelerating
JUL 14, 2021
Clearance of Southeast Asian Forests is Accelerating
For years, researchers have been warning about the environmental consequences of deforestation in Southeast Asia, an are ...
AUG 09, 2021
Plants & Animals
Surprisingly, human nose adaptations are not always driven by colder climates
AUG 09, 2021
Surprisingly, human nose adaptations are not always driven by colder climates
New research suggests that human nose shape is not only driven by cold climates, as previously thought
AUG 12, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Cultivation Negatively Impacts the Environment
AUG 12, 2021
Cannabis Cultivation Negatively Impacts the Environment
Cannabis cultivation may have several damaging effects on the environment. The corresponding study was published in the& ...
AUG 15, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Stunning Connection Between Bear DNA & Human Language Groups Is Revealed
AUG 15, 2021
Stunning Connection Between Bear DNA & Human Language Groups Is Revealed
Incredible findings from the wilds of coastal British Columbia have shown how closely linked animals, humans, and the en ...
AUG 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
The Killer Instinct of a Dainty Flower is Finally Exposed
AUG 15, 2021
The Killer Instinct of a Dainty Flower is Finally Exposed
The exotic Venus flytrap is a famous carnivorous plant that's easy to identify. But it seems that another carnivorous pl ...
AUG 30, 2021
Plants & Animals
Amphibious Whale Fossil Discovered in Egypt
AUG 30, 2021
Amphibious Whale Fossil Discovered in Egypt
The first animals that were ancestors of whales are thought to have been deer-like mammals that could walk on land about ...
Loading Comments...