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How can I tell whether saved spuds are disease-free?

Posted by joannaqcw NY 4/5 (My Page) on
Tue, Apr 3, 12 at 15:15

Last year my potatoes lived and died healthily, as far as I could see. My tomatoes got a bad case of early blight after the potato tops died. I dug potatoes before frost and only thought later about whether this could allow blight spores to infest the tubers. The potatoes we've eaten this winter haven't shown characteristic early blight lesions--they look healthy (better than what often get from the ag store). If they don't have visible blight damage after a year in storage can I assume they are healthy and replant them, or am I inviting another round of early blight? Any advice would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Joanna


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RE: How can I tell whether saved spuds are disease-free?

The fungus that causes Early Blight can over-winter in just about anything; soil, leaf debris, surrounding weeds, etc. It doesn't require live tissue.

It is the fungus that causes Late Blight, a much more serious disease, that can only over-winter in live tissue such as potatoes. Preventing the spread of LB is the reason for the caution against using untreated, stored seed potatoes.

So if you are sure the disease you had was Early Blight then you could use your potatoes. If not, then it is best to buy new seed potatoes.

Standard recommendation is to treat your own stored potatoes with a fungicide before planting to improve the odds against possible problems but that doesn't appeal to some folks.

Dave


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