The Idaho potato industry's annual winter grow-out, in which seed lot samples are planted to test for potato virus Y and other diseases, may move from Brawley, Calif., to Oahu, Hawaii, to avoid the threat of frost.
Lots planted in Brawley for this season's grow-out sustained frost damage on Jan. 4, when temperatures dipped to 31 degrees for several hours. A second frost further damaged plants on Jan. 17, though many leaf samples had already been taken by then.
University of Idaho Extension seed pathologist Phil Nolte said he's confident this year's testing for PVY was accurate. Since 2007, Idaho Crop Improvement Program has relied on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay testing for PVY, which utilizes color changes caused by the presence of antibodies to confirm the presence of disease. ELISA tests don't require perfect leaves.
Chad Neibaur, a Grace, Idaho, seed grower who serves on the Idaho Crop Improvement Program state board of directors, believes results were likely skewed for tests that rely on visual inspections, such as potato leafroll virus and damage by glyphosate and other chemicals.
"I'm sure that's the case," Neibaur said, adding it's fortunate those problems aren't prevalent in Idaho.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press