Following a season in which bacterial ring rot resurfaced in Idaho's potato crop, a University of Idaho researcher hopes to establish the first in-state facility to test growers' samples for the disease.
UI Extension potato seed pathologist Phil Nolte said a ring rot lab would require roughly a $35,000 investment for a polymerase chain reaction machine to perform DNA testing. Idaho, the nation's largest commercial and seed potato production area, now ships samples east for ring rot testing. Nolte thinks a North American Free Trade Agreement-approved lab could be operational by next season. He may approach processors for financial assistance.
"When you consider what people have lost based on having bacterial ring rot in the fields, the amount of money we're talking is a drop in the bucket. When you're talking $35,000, some of these guys have lost millions this year," Nolte said.
He said the lab would help international seed exporters meet testing mandates, and domestic buyers make certain the seed they procure is clean. He said PCR machines can test up to 200 potato tissue samples at a time for about $40 per test.
SOURCE: John O'Connell, Capital Press