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Potato varieties – Spraing to mind

12 October 2016

It may not have turned out to be a season with big spraing problems, but free-living nematodes haven’t gone away. CPM looks at managing the threat.

“The challenge for breeders is to maintain all the end-user requirements in a variety while introducing traits for resistance to pests and diseases.”

By Lucy de la Pasture

As all potato growers know all too well, it’s a peculiar market where varieties are concerned. It’s not just about characteristics when it comes to which varieties to plant. There’s a huge element down to consumer and supply chain acceptance, especially for packing potatoes.

This makes it considerably different to choosing a cereal variety, where its yield and disease characteristics can make or break the decision. All too often, growers have to learn to cope with the agronomic disadvantages of a variety because it’s what the market wants.

To prove the point, Maris Piper is still the most popular potato variety grown in the UK, according to figures recently released by AHDB Potatoes. That’s in spite of the fact that Maris Piper is notoriously susceptible to slug damage and to Globodera pallida Pa2/3,1. Foliar blight, common scab and PVY aren’t its strong points either. Maris Piper’s success is down to its versatility for the end user, explains AHDB analyst Amber Cottingham, whose stats show the area of Maris Piper grew by 5% in 2016 (see table on below).

One of the biggest movers in the top ten was processing variety, Royal, with an area increase of 38% which moves it up six places to reach the top ten for the first time. Interestingly one of the traits of this variety is a good resistance to potato mop top virus (PMTV) which causes spraing symptoms in tubers. Another top mover is Taurus which has a resistance (8) to powdery scab, which acts as the vector for PMTV. Could that be a coincidence or a reflection that growers do what they can within their market when it comes to variety selection?


Source: CPM Magazine

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