Helping Wisconsin farmers, one potato at a time
[caption id="attachment_19729" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Workers at a potato farm near Coloma, Wisconsin, pick through harvested potatoes. Photo: Bryce Richter[/caption]
The plant disease known as late blight of potato is infamous for its devastating effects on Ireland in the mid-19th century: Its catastrophic impact on potato crops led to the Great Famine, a period of widespread starvation and mass emigration of roughly 1 million Irish citizens.
This clever pathogen, also known as Phytophthora infestans or “plant destroyer,” can spread like wildfire and evolve rapidly. When conditions are ripe it can wipe out a field in a matter of days. Late blight infects potatoes and tomatoes, often emerging as relatively small brown or pale green spots that quickly spread into dark, moist, oily patches in wet weather. These spots, or lesions, often turn white and fuzzy in appearance on leaves, stems and fruit as the pathogen produces thousands of spores.
In 2009, late blight made its way to Wisconsin after a seven-year hiatus. Since then, it has been detected each year. To put the potential threat into perspective: Wisconsin ranks third in the U.S. in ...
Tuesday, April 19th, 2016