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Scottish Potato Industry unites to fund major Blackleg Research project

Scottish Potato Industry unites to fund major Blackleg Research project

Wilting of a potato plant caused by blackleg

A group of major potato businesses and public sector organisations including the Scottish Government and AHDB have sponsored a £242,000 (USD 313,000) research project aimed at reducing the impact of potato disease blackleg on the Scottish seed potato industry.

AHDB and Scottish Government joint-funded a project during 2013-2016 which provided significant new information on blackleg and its origins. It also highlighted areas where further investigation is required for improved management of the problem.

As a result, a second project will begin this September to identify the major routes of initial contamination of high-grade tubers and establish best practice for blackleg management.

Sue Cowgill, Senior Crop Protection Scientist at AHDB:

“We hope that by determining the impact of post-harvest practices such as storage, grading and handling practices on the contamination of tubers we can set a platform for an industry-wide approach to tackling this disease.”

“The research may also identify the potential for new and innovative control options as part of the blackleg management tool kit.”
Scotland is one of the leading growers of seed potatoes in the world, producing 75% of all seed grown in the UK. Scottish seed production underpins a domestic potato sector valued at £167 million and provides the foundations for GB production that has a retail value estimated at over £4 billion.

Alistair Redpath, Chief Executive at Cygnet Potato Breeders:

“Our seed trade is based on the maintenance of our excellent high-health reputation.”

“As part of maintaining this justified position the industry relies on AHDB research to inform further improvements to our practices.”
The project has been awarded to a consortium comprising James Hutton Institute, SAC Commercial Ltd, Fera Science Ltd, Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), BioSS and Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research (SBCSR).

Financial and in kind support for is being provided by McCain Potatoes Ltd, Greenvale AP, Cygnet Potato Breeders Ltd, Agrico UK Ltd, APS BioControl Ltd, HZPC, Caithness Potatoes Ltd, Branston Ltd and Techneat Engineering.
Companies in this Article
Agrico UK Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Agrico Holland, a Dutch farmer cooperative of some 800 members producing in excess of 360,000 tonnes of seed potatoes per year.
AHDB Potatoes (formerly known as Potato Council) is a public body working on behalf of potato growers and purchasers to promote British potatoes.
Branston is one of UK’s biggest potato buyers, packers, distributors and marketers. Branston also produces prepared vegetables.
Caithness Potatoes is a producer of seed potatoes and potatoes for consumption located in Scotland.
Cygnet PB is Britain's biggest potato breeder and one of the largest seed potato growers in the country.
Greenvale AP  is UK’s leading supplier of fresh potatoes. Next to three state of the art potato-packing operations situated in Shropshire, Berwickshire and Cambridgeshire, Greenvale AP operates a specialist factory in Cambridgeshire that is dedicated to the production of mashed potato trading under the Greenvale Foods Ltd banner.
HZPC is a Dutch supplier of seed and ware potatoes. HZPC is the largest seed potato supplier worldwide. 
The James Hutton Institute is an international research centre based in Scotland.
Seed potato business of McCain Foods (GB) Limited