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11140031 Approaches for the Production of Healthy Mini-tubers

Publication Date: 
1 December 2016
Author/Contact :
Rosalind McHugh

Contractor :

Full Title: Evaluation of alternative approaches for production of healthy PBTC mini-tubers
Duration: December 2016 to May 2019


The potato industry is built on foundations of disease-free starting material in the form of potato micro-plants, produced in sterile conditions in government laboratories. These are then passed to PBTC growers. These commercial growers bulk micro-plants and grow them on to produce most of the UK’s mini-tubers, the first tubers in the production chain. The growers take every care to ensure optimal health of the mini-tubers they produce, growing the plants under protection and implementing strict hygiene procedures. However, one potential vulnerability is the growing media used. Growers have no information as to pathogen potential of any growing medium they choose to use. Hence, it is vital that the understanding of growing media for PBTC production is furthered; and management practices which may further reduce pathogen risk should be investigated, such as the use of sterilisation, prophylactic fungicide use, biocontrol agents or plant-growth promoting bacteria.

Aims and Approach

Aim: To identify the pathogen potential of a range of growing media used in/with the potential to be used in PBTC mini-tuber production and to explore the use of a number of control strategies to counteract the threat from pathogens harboured within the media.


  1. Fully capture the needs of PBTC growers and practices of growing media processors. Identify and source growing media suitable for PBTC production.
  2. Test for the presence of a range of pathogens in growing media and the efficacy of control strategies.
  3. Grow out microplants in a range of media to bear mini-tubers, assess health. Repeat experiments with a range of control strategies.
  4. Select media/control strategies with optimal criteria for mini-tuber growth and lowest pathogen rating for trials at growers’ premises. Tubers from trials to be assessed for yield, skin finish, diseases, general appearance.

Media will be identified, sourced, quality-tested and fully evaluated in field trials at growers’ premises, alongside a range of control measures. Ultimately, growers will be armed with information that will help them make better choices about growing media, control strategies, etc. to ensure healthy mini-tuber production for the benefit of the whole potato industry.

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