3 August 2001

Move to develop fresh fungal disease controls

RESEARCHERS have appealed for growers help in sourcing plants affected by the fungal disease Rhizoctonia in a bid to develop new controls.

Informal surveys by BPC staff at grower meetings suggest Rhizoc-tonia now ranks on a par with potato blight among producers concerns.

"The disease attacks the young underground shoots of potato plants and can result in stem canker. Resistance to the disease rises as plants emerge and green-up, although some potatoes ultimately die off," says Harper Adams plant pathologist Pete Jenkinson.

"In the past there has not been the concern over this disease. If a plant was killed, others surrounding it benefited from the vacated space. But it led to variation in tuber size that reduced the marketable portion of the crop."

Researchers now want to investigate strains of the disease in different areas of the UK to help develop controls. "Although shallower planting, chitted seed and seed dressing can help, there are no foliar sprays for this disease."

To help, contact Dr Jenkinson, (01952-820280 or e-mail pjenkinson@harper-adams.ac.uk). &#42