Spore traps prove valuable predictor of late blight on potatoes

This growing season, the Ontario Potato Board asked me to evaluate an innovative spore trapping technology to take late blight management to the next level. Spore traps should detect the presence of late blight spores in the air before infection takes place and before symptoms are visible in fields.

Knowing that late blight spores are present will help potato growers to better time sprays and to include fungicides specific to late blight which are more effective than protectant fungicides. Wind can spread spores up to a hundred kilometers; thus late blight spores are likely present in other areas of the province. 

We installed spore traps in potato fields in the Alliston and Shelburne areas. The filters that trap the spores were replaced twice a week and sent to a laboratory for analysis. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) based tests were used to identify the presence of late blight. This test is very reliable and specific; the risk of false positives is negligible. 

To validate the performance and effectiveness of the spore traps, the fields were monitored twice a week; drone technology was used once a week. 

All the PCR tests in June gave negative results; no late blight spores were found in the traps. However, during the week of July 7, late blight spores were trapped in both areas, Alliston and Shelburne. Field scouting and drone flights indicated that the fieldsm were healthy and well protected with fungicide applications. These preliminary results indicated that spore traps are invaluable tools to predict the development of potato late blight. Weather conditions -- wet and cool -- are also important factors that influence the development of this disease. 

Emails were sent to the organizations of Ontario potato growers and tomato growers that late blight spores were in the Alliston and Shelburne areas. The project ended the last week of August. Studies will continue in 2017.  

This project is funded in part through Growing Forward 2(GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.


Publish date: 
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Click to leave a comment

For security purposes, please confirm you are not a robot!


NutriAg launches SiliCalMax

NutriAg is introducing newly registered SiliCalMax, a silicon and calcium foliar fertilizer for both fruit and vegetable crops.

Ontario greenhouse growers innovate

More than $3.6 million of Ontario funding will be targeted to 12 projects through the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative. One project is to test cost effectiveness of anti-viral coating to treat tools and surfaces with hopes of reducing spread of human and plant viruses. 

Artificial intelligence is coming to greenhouse vegetables operations

Smart algorithms can optimize and steer climate, irrigation and energy in daily operations of greenhouses. A January 28 webinar delves into how artificial intelligence can reduce dependency on human expertise in controlled environments. 

Telus launches agriculture division

Telus Corporation, a Canadian telecom company, has announced its acquisitions of several data management and analytics companies to come under the umbrella of Telus Agriculture.   

Ecoation partners with robotic arm developer

Ecoation is partnering with Kinova, a Canadian-based global leader in professional robotics. It’s a step forward in identifying pests and diseases in greenhouses.