Saturday, March 15, 2014
I started learning more about Phytopthora in 1985 when I became a seed scout for Ohio Seed. At that time Dr. Pat Lipps spent a good deal of time teaching us how to identify the different strains of phytopthora.
I just saw a Tweet from Bill Gates about science attacking phytopthora in potatoes. The Great Potato Famine starting in 1845 is estimated to have starved a million people. That led to the Carrington's, my mother's side coming to America. This disease even led to my birth!
The Oxford study, published in Science, examines the biochemical differences between two related blight strains affecting potatoes and the four o’clock flower. The findings may not be particularly glamorous, but understanding how such pathogens adapt to new hosts and spread between plant species is crucial in the fight against a disease so harmful that the U.S. once researched it as potential agent for biological weapons.
In fact, the same pathogen, Phytophthora infestans, that caused the Great Famine still affects tomatoes and potatoes today, all over the world, costing an estimated $7 billion a year. That’s enough money to feed the entire world for 2.7 days. Doesn't sound like much, does it? That's a whole lot of food.
Read more: A New Generation of Disease-Resistant Crops | Fast forward | OZY
Phytopthora has always been a problem in crops in Ohio because of our favorable conditions for its growth. Seed treatment pays here and the beans I lost were untreated, only a planter box mixture that by itself was not strong enough to fight the pathogen.
If you fight phytopthora on your farm, what are you doing differently this year?