FOR POTATO GROWERS, a good harvest doesn’t always mean a good year. Spoilage in storage claims 8 to 9 percent of the nation’s annual potato crop – a $16 million loss of potatoes in Wisconsin alone. But a new test developed by CALS plant pathologists may help farmers weed out those potatoes destined to go bad before they go into storage lockers. Offered by Pest Pros, Inc., a Wisconsin plant diagnostics company, the test employs a technique known as PCR to screen potato samples for the presence of microbes responsible for diseases such as late blight, pink rot and fusarium. Potatoes shown to have a high risk of spoiling in storage can still be filtered out and processed immediately, explains Zahi Atallah, a postdoctoral researcher who developed the test. “So instead of storing the good with the bad,” he says, “now growers can do triage.”This article was posted in Agriculture, Food Systems, Food Systems, On Henry Mall, Winter 2008 and tagged fusarium, Grow Winter 2008, Inc., late blight, On Henry Mall, PCR, Pest Pros, pink rot, plant pathology, potato, potatoes, spoilage, Zahi Atallah.
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