Potato update

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By Gemma Carroll, Communications & Engagement Officer, Potatoes NZ 

The 2018-2019 Summer Season has been fairly stable so far, though as I write this update, there is torrential rain in Canterbury, which could possibly create some short-term issues. 

Overall there’s been lots of rain across the growing regions, to keep our crops growing. The wet season has also meant the occurrence of Black Leg (bacteria) & Powdery Scab, which has been a concern in some areas. 

Both of these diseases can be transmitted via machinery and equipment and their presence this summer is a reminder to ensure we all practice good farm hygiene as we enter and leave properties, especially as Powdery Scab is the known vector for Potato Mop-Top Virus (PMTV).  

PNZ will be working hard to encourage on farm biosecurity this year as part of our readiness and response approach to biosecurity. 

Details of both these SROs, including photographs of symptoms, can be found in our latest edition HANDBOOK of pests and diseases for New Zealand potato growers – 2018 update. This can be ordered free of charge through our online resource portal. https://portal.format.co.nz/portal/page/portal/BSPG60/BSWORKSMAIN/Catalogue  

Processed spud varieties are all in the ground despite the wet weather and will be maturing mid-late Feb. Other varieties for fresh and seed are all doing well in the field. 

Some farms will be encountering the usual struggle to get seasonal staff for grading sheds, which is a challenge most horticultural industries encounter at this time of year. There is no solution in the short-term for this recurring problem. 

As 2019 kicks off, PNZ continues to work alongside Biosecurity New Zealand in response to the Potato mop-top virus (PMTV) incursion.  We continue to gather intelligence, test leaf samples, tubers and carry out soil bait testing. The situation remains much the same as it did at the end of 2018, with positive testsin the Canterbury region so far – the only region where field testing has been undertaken to date. 

Creating a long-term management plan is the current focus for PNZ and Biosecurity New Zealand. 

PNZ have started planning for their conference in August 2019 and registrations will be open in early June. If growers have a burning desire to see/hear presentations on a particular topic, feel free to contact zn.oc.znseotatop@llorraC.ammeG