Spanish explorers brought the potato to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century. A fungus causes a disease of potatoes known as late blight. Infected potatoes emit a distinctive unpleasant odor due to decay of plant tissue. Late blight first appeared in Europe in 1845 and had devastating consequences, particularly in Ireland. Today potato growers in Europe spray fungicides to prevent late blight infections. In the Czech Republic, 1.6 billion pounds of potatoes are grown annually and growers typically spray fungicides seven times yearly. 2011 was an ideal year for late blight development in the Czech Republic with devastating results for unsprayed potatoes….
“Czech Republic 2011. In 2011, the weather conditions were very favourable for the development of potato late blight. Rainfall in May, June and August was near the normal in the main production region; however, in July it reached 160 – 180% of the normal. The spread of foliage blight was intensive and the level of tuber infection was also severe. The first more important outbreaks in the potato production region were observed in the second decade of July; however, epidemic late blight spreading was very rapid and non-treated crops were completely destroyed in 2 – 4 weeks, based on locality and varietal susceptibility.”
Authors: Hansen, J. G., et al.
Affiliation: Aarhus University, Dept. of Agroecology, Research Centre Foulum.
Title: The Development and Control of Late Blight (Phytophthora infestans) in Europe in 2010 and 2011.
Source: Thirteenth EuroBlight workshop, St. Petersburg (Russia), 9-12 October 2011.