All the Livelong Year

Published online: May 03, 2021 Articles, Fungicide, New Products Tyrell Marchant, Editor
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This article appears in the May 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

When it comes to raising a healthy, profitable, high-quality potato crop, it takes a year-round approach to have any hope of making a successful run at it. Truthfully, one could say it takes several years’ worth of analyzing history and planning future outcomes to deem any single season’s efforts a triumph.

That, of course, includes an awareness of disease and pest pressures a crop might face in a particular field — and even what may have plagued your seed potatoes before they make it to your farm. If a strong line of communication doesn’t exist from a nuclear seed grower, to a later-generation seed grower, to a commercial grower, pests and pathogens have a greater likelihood of developing resistance to chemical treatments.

“The fact that the potato industry plants seed tubers rather than a botanical seed makes it unique,” says Kiran Shetty, technical development lead for potatoes with Syngenta Crop Protection. “There’s a lot of continuity from what a seed grower does to what a commercial grower does after he gets the seed. Pathogens do take advantage of ineffective processes. Whether it’s transmitted via the soil, foliar or on the tuber itself, there’s been a history of resistance in almost every state in production.”

“The whole potato industry is extremely diverse, but so much of it is connected,” says Glenn Letendre, a Syngenta agronomic service representative based in western Idaho. “The disease spectrum and pressures are different. The end use is different. Seed growers’ programs will be much different from those who are growing processing or fresh-market potatoes. But they’re dependent on one another.”

Like many other agrochemical companies, Syngenta collaborates closely with growers to provide the protection their crops need, not only from seed to storage, but from year to year. One of the biggest concerns facing the industry in recent years and into the foreseeable future is the threat of pests and pathogens developing resistance to products currently on the market. With one of the most diverse potato product portfolios in the industry, Syngenta is well-suited to supply combat just such a problem. But much of the effectiveness of those products would be for naught without open lines of communication — not only between the company and its customers, but all across the potato industry.  

“Growers need to realize resistance is here to stay,” says Shetty. “Doing the same thing year after year raises a red flag, particularly when considering seed. It’s easy for a pathogen to ride on a seed tuber from one generation to the next. Introducing a new chemistry does not necessarily solve all problems. Other steps need to be considered as well, like cultural practices, timing and the sequence of applications.”

Pathogens are quick learners, so it’s imperative that the industry focuses on learning even faster to stay in front of them.

“From a resistance management standpoint, our blends have continued to evolve,” says Dan Maxfield, a Columbia Basin-based agronomic service representative. That evolution can be seen in Syngenta’s approach to its Cruiser Maxx seed treatment line. For example, Cruiser Maxx Potato Extreme targets Fusarium quite well; Cruiser Maxx Potato Extreme builds on that foundation with an additional active ingredient that also combats Rhizoctonia. 

“Bringing new active ingredients to these blends helps maintain efficacy across different diseases, and even across different mutations of a pathogen,” says Maxfield. “It’s really covering the bases in a lot of the major seed-borne diseases.”

As growers go throughout the growing season, it’s important they have open discussions with chemical reps, university experts and even other growers to help determine the best way to protect their crops. Even if something has worked well in the past, or is working well for another grower, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the answer for your farm, Letendre warns. But good advice is always available.

“We will tailor our recommendations based on an individual farm’s history and the crop’s intended end use,” he says. “It’s a great advantage to have a portfolio like we do to build programs for growers. The combinations and permutations are endless. “We all want the grower to be profitable, so we choose a program that will helpfully do that for him.”

“The potato industry as a whole is well-served at almost all levels at identifying and understanding before problems really occur,” says Shetty. “Nothing is constant, and we need to remember that these pathogens are smart as well. But we are still ahead in the game.”

 

To hear more about what Syngenta’s experts have to say about full-season crop protection and resistance management, visit www.potato-expo.com to listen to Shetty and Maxfield’s Potato Talk at the 2021 Potato Expo, titled “Fungicide Resistance Management Techniques and the Value of Premixes.”

For further information on Syngenta’s full lineup of potato products, visit www.syngenta-us.com/spud-doctor.