Scottish govt steps in to fund Fight Against Blight for 2022

a closeup of a potato leaf with blight

THE Scottish Government has agreed to fund the Fight Against Blight (FAB) project that helps to protect potato crops against late blight for 2022. 

There had been uncertainty over the future of the project following the end of AHDB Potatoes operations last year.

See also: Blight population shifts continue as new clone arrives in Scotland

Professor Gerry Saddler, Head of SASA, and chief plant health officer for Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government are providing interim support for this important initiative in recognition of the needs of the Scottish potato industry.”

As in previous seasons, the work is based on monitoring of Phytophthora infestans populations by a network of agronomists, growers and industry representatives who submit field samples from suspected late blight outbreaks around the country. 

The 2022 effort will include the annual sampling of late blight outbreaks by these FAB Scouts and then the characterisation of pathogen populations. 

Fungicide sensitivity

In work led by Dr Alison Lees, fungicide sensitivity testing will be carried out once again for a selection of active ingredients.

Feedback will be provided to scouts throughout the season and, in combination with the summary at the end of the season, updates the potato industry on best-practice for late blight management.

Project leader Dr David Cooke of the James Hutton Institute said: “This is great news for growers and the sector more widely, and it’s also great news for the longer-term research effort that supports this area. 

“Detecting any shifts in the population as early as possible is key to understanding the threat levels, how the blight pathogen is evolving, and the responses required.”

Sampling packs

For season 2022, previously registered FAB Scouts will automatically receive sampling packs for this continuation work. 

New scouts wishing to register and submit samples, or any scouts with other queries, should contact fab@hutton.ac.uk

A dedicated website will be forthcoming, and scouts will be kept informed of any developments and relevant new information. 

Any sample packs, prepaid envelopes and FTA cards from previous seasons can still be used.

The situation for late blight risk monitoring and response beyond 2022 is currently under discussion between industry stakeholders to resource ongoing work in this area for 2023 and beyond.

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