On 10 May, a meeting was held between AuSPICA, members of the Tasmanian Certified Seed Potato Scheme (known as TasSeed) and invited industry representatives. Held in Devonport, it provided stimulating and robust discussion between the respective seed potato schemes as well as a forum to exchange knowledge and ideas.
At the forefront of discussion was the new blackleg that have been found in seed potato crops in Victoria and Tasmania. At the meeting AuSPICA Compliance Officer Nellie Malseed gave a presentation on blackleg and summarised the implications rising from the detection of the previously unknown bacteria. The new blackleg has the potential to cause up to 100 per cent crop loss and cool-storage breakdown.
AuSPICA presented proposed changes to certification conditions based on the significance of this disease and highlighted the need for all seed potato schemes to work collaboratively to address this issue. The joint meeting offered an opportunity for industry participants to ask questions and seek information.
The planting of clean certified seed is a major component of integrated disease management for the control of blackleg and the available laboratory diagnostics that are used to determine the causal bacteria was discussed. This included sampling strategies testing either tubers or stems.
In addressing the issue of blackleg, a number of strategies were discussed around the requirements for certified seed entering Victoria, including tuber tests, to confirm freedom from blackleg (Dickeya spp. and Pectobacterium spp.). This will ensure that blackleg cannot be multiplied up within the respective seed schemes and provides confidence that certified seed remains clean.
Both seed certification schemes gained a greater understanding about their respective roles plus invited opportunities to collaborate further. Therefore, it was suggested by multiple parties that this forum should be repeated on a regular basis (in addition to meetings with the Australian Seed Potato Council).
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