How Potato Seed Programs Can Improve [Opinion]
Most potato seed certifying bodies ensure growers plant healthy, clean tubers. The systems are working as intended.
Yet with so many different groups operating with their own list of rules, problems can arise.
I reached out to those participating in the programs across the U.S. for how they would improve the current system.
Here are their responses:
Remove Some of the Differences
Since potato growing markets differ, it makes sense to gear certification to meet the needs of various market segments.
Yet a fair portion of the seed stock needs to be re-certified when it’s sold into new states, causing a headache for potato seed growers. There’s enough crossover that rules can be streamlined.
“Increased harmonization across state certification standards will help ensure that commercial potato farmers have a consistent
experience when sourcing seed from multiple geographies,” says Reagan Grabner, Vice President of CSS Farms, a seed producer in Washington state.
Follow the Rules
No one pointed fingers at any other group, but a surprising number of certifiers think the best way to improve the potato seed industry is for everyone to follow existing guidelines.
Keep Updated on Diseases
Diseases like potato rot virus, potato blackleg, and potato virus Y (PVY) can create havoc quickly. PVY, for example, is difficult to spot visually, yet it can lower yields significantly. Although PVY has been around a while, it’s showing up more often.
That calls for improved control programs.
Finally, experts say the industry should work cooperatively.
“The seed industry should welcome a new generation of seed growers, continue to educate current seed growers, and continue to work with potato Extension agencies and universities to keep current with disease threats,” says Eric Byre, Supervisor, Seed Potato Certification program, Minnesota Department of Agriculture.