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R453 Haulm Destruction in Seed Crops

Publication Date: 
28 October 2011
Author/Contact :
Daan Kiezebrink

Contractor :

Full Research Project Title: Evaluating the impact of haulm destruction method on development of disease in seed crops
Duration: April 2011 - March 2012

Aim: To identify the impact of haulm destruction method on disease risks in seed potato production, and follows up on project R431.

Industry Challenge

Since the withdrawal of sulphuric acid as an option for haulm destruction, seed potato growers have had to convert to other methods of haulm destruction.  These have included other chemical options, haulm pulverisation or a combination of chemical options and haulm pulverisation. One key concern where haulm pulverisation is used is the risk of spreading the blackleg bacterium (Pectobacterium atrosepticum) from affected plants to other plants within a crop and between crops.


SAC, Scottish Agronomy



a) To evaluate the effect of different haulm destruction methods on disease development post-harvest in the seed crop situation.
b) To evaluate a pre-haulm destruction treatment with a disinfectant to reduce inoculum on haulm and thereby spread to daughter tubers.
c) To evaluate the spread of P. atrosepticum from blackleg plants to healthy plants as a result of different haulm destruction treatments.

Two replicated field trials in Aberdeenshire (Olmeldrum; Rothienorman); eight large-scale field comparisons; and trials to study the spread of P. atrosepticum inoculated into crops, were carried out during the project. Levels of P. atrosepticum contamination of daughter tubers were measured in the trials. In some trials, a distinction was made as to whether P. atrosepticum was present on the surface of tubers or in samples from the stolon end of peeled tubers. In the replicated field trials, the effectiveness of the haulm destruction treatments (foliage senescence and stem desiccation) was measured. Colonisation of stems by Phoma species (the fungi which cause gangrene) was assessed just prior to harvest and tuber disease (soft rot, gangrene, pit rot) was assessed in samples of stored tubers.



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