Looking for a Silver Bullet for Silver Scurf

Silver scurf is a major concern for potato growers in the Lower Mainland. The fungus infects potatoes before harvest, and once they are harvested and stored, it causes silver lesions on the skin of the tuber, reducing quality and weight.

The BC Potato and Vegetable Growers and E.S. Cropconsult have been working together to evaluate new products to protect potatoes for both organic and conventional potato growers.

“As growers, we need to know if we’re using a product, whether or not it works before we put the money into it,” says Val Fair, director with the BC Potato and Vegetable Growers Association. “The cost [of the product] is one factor, but the cost of the disease if the product is not effective is huge.”

A study evaluated six products – sodium bicarbonate, Actinovate SP, Phostrol, Confine, Rampart and the registered industry standard, Mertect SC. The trials tested application 24 hours and 72 hours after harvest to determine if the timing of the application has an effect. The stored potatoes were assessed for infection immediately before product application, after three months in storage and after six months in storage. While the study did not find a silver bullet, results showed Confine, a phosphoric acid-based fungicide, successfully reduced the progress of silver scurf in stored potatoes. It is now available to growers as a registered control. None of the organic post-harvest solutions tested in this trial were effective.

Funding: $2,000 allocated through the federal Canadian Agriculture Adaptation Program. (SP174)

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