P.E.I. to offer fusarium testing on seed potatoes

Prince Edward Island’s agriculture department is offering to test potato growers’ seed lots for fusarium dry rot and, if need be, test the disease for fungicide resistance.

The province’s free new service is meant to help growers “ensure that they are using a fungicide that is effective against any fusarium that may have affected seed lots.”

In recent years, provincial potato industry co-ordinator Brian Beaton said in a release, an increasing amount of fusarium seed piece decay has been seen in seed lots.

As well, he said Thursday, “a number” of the fusarium strains found show resistance to commonly used fungicides.

Growers who’d like to submit samples can place them in sealed plastic bags and submit them “as soon as possible” to the agricultural research station at 440 University Ave. in Charlottetown.

Samples can also be dropped off at Access PEI sites at O’Leary, Surrey or Summerside, Beaton said.

Growers are advised to collect a sample of about 10 tubers. Any tubers showing disease symptoms should be included in the sample, the province said, especially if they have cuts or cracks.

Tubers that are completely rotted or broken down, however, should not be included.

There is no cost for the testing service, the province said. Testing will take about two weeks.

Seed potatoes infected with fusarium can rot after planting and cause “misses” in a field, Beaton said in the release.

“Even if plants grown from infected seed do emerge, they often have reduced vigour and yield.”

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