Elevated risk of soft rot


27 May 2020
Elevated risk of soft rot

Slow demand of processing potatoes could be elevating the risk of soft rot in store, according to Fera, which is offering a soft rot quantification service that will provide information and understanding about which stocks are most at risk

The quantification service aims to enable growers to make strategic decisions about which stocks to push on to the market first after booking in samples. 
Blackleg and soft rots pose a serious threat to British potato production and vigilance is required to prevent its introduction and spread. Bacterial soft rot is known to cause a greater loss of produce than any other known bacterial disease. It can cause heavy losses in stored potatoes if not properly managed. This in turn can provide significant financial implications if not managed correctly.

Fera's plant experts can quickly determine the average tuber inoculum load of soft rotting bacteria in your sample.

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A number of bacterial pathogens are capable of causing rots of potato tubers, most importantly during storage of the crop. The pathogen found most frequently in the UK is Pectobacterium carotovorum , but Pectobacterium atrosepticum and Dickeya species may also be involved.Tuber rotting can also develop following infection by the quarantine organisms Ralstonia solanacearum (brown rot) and Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. sepedonicus (ring rot). The majority of growers will, hopefully, never see either of these diseases, but should be aware of their symptoms.

Yara stresses that correct balanced nutrition of the crop prior to harvest, particularly calcium and boron nutrition, can have positive effects against soft rots.

Other crop management practices recommended by Yara to decrease potato soft rots include: 

  • Harvesting early, thereby minimising late disease ingress or tuber deterioration.
  • Taking care during harvest and grading to reduce physical damage and bruising.
  • Disinfecting seed storage areas to reduce disease carry over. 
  • Harvesting in good conditions to avoid physical damage and disease infestation. 
  • Using in-store treatments (e.g. fungicides) to reduce tuber disease build-up.
  • Controlling temperatures and humidity in storage.

Details of forthcoming webinars and knowledge events about this and other current issues can be found on our events page - https://www.potatoreview.com/events