International potato expert praises NZ research

International potato industry expert Professor Gary Secor has praised New Zealand’s world-leading research, during a visit to speak at the Potatoes New Zealand Inc annual conference.

Professor Secor, of the Plant Pathology Department at North Dakota State University, was a keynote speaker at the two day event in Ashburton.

“New Zealand has world recognised research, including on powdery scab and psyllids and zebra chip, and a good potato breeding programme that serves the industry well,” said Professor Secor.

“I have read several research publications that have established New Zealand as a leader in potato research.”

Powdery scab is a disease of potato tubers. The psyllid, a North American insect was first found in New Zealand in 2006. It eats plant leaves such as those of the tomato and potato, reducing yield, and releases a bacteria which can result in a zebra stripe type discoloration in potato tubers.

Dr Secor’s presentation to the conference included an ‘all of industry’ session on disease management and a workshop with seed growers on seed development and handling.

Fellow speakers included Ron Greentree, from New South Wales, Australia’s single biggest wheat farmer.

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