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Cutting-edge strategies in potato pest and disease defense: Insights from the 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting

At the recent Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting, new information was presented for battling the persistent pests and diseases plaguing potato crops. This annual event, hosted by Miller Research, featured four key presentations that each brought forward new ideas and solutions critically needed by the agricultural community.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Potato Bacterial Pathogens

The first presentation, titled “Bacterial Bad Guys,” led by Dr. Jeff Miller, focused on the growing concerns around bacterial diseases in potatoes, such as blackleg and soft rot. He provided a summary of field research aimed at evaluating foliar pesticide applications for reducing aerial stem rot in the field and bacterial soft rot in storage.

Research done with Drs. Nora Olsen and Mike Thornton at the University of Idaho evaluated the risk of soft rot development at different locations in fresh pack potato sheds. Once potatoes are washed, the risk of soft rot development increases exponentially.

Advancements in Fungicidal Treatments for Foliar Diseases

In the second session, “Fighting Foliar Foes with Fungicides,” agronomist Trent Taysom presented recent successes in the development and application of fungicides to combat foliar diseases such as early blight and white mold. His presentation covered the efficacy of new fungicidal compounds and the importance of application timing and techniques to maximize crop protection.

Taysom stressed the significance of resistance management, advocating for a balanced approach that includes crop rotation and alternative fungicides. “It’s not just about killing the pathogen; it’s about sustaining our crop production without compromising future yields through resistance buildup,” he explained.

Diagnostic Game-Changer in Disease Management

Name that Disease!” presented by pathologist Dr. Jeff Miller introduced an innovative, interactive approach to educating farmers and agronomists on identifying potato diseases more effectively. Using a quiz format, Dr. Miller engaged the audience with real-life scenarios to diagnose various potato diseases, emphasizing the importance of accurate identification in effective disease management.

The presentation was particularly well-received, with attendees appreciating the hands-on learning experience.

Chemigation: A Viable Method for Pest and Disease Control?

The final presentation, “Can I Chemigate?” by chemical engineer Trent Taysom tackled the topic of chemigation — the practice of applying pesticides and other chemicals through irrigation systems. Taysom outlined the benefits and potential risks associated with this method, as well as best practices for implementation.

Highlighting recent technological advancements, Taysom discussed how precision application can reduce environmental impact and improve efficacy. “Chemigation can be done effectively, reducing the cost of fungicide application and providing similar efficacy to aerial or ground application,” he summarized.


The 2024 Miller Research Potato Pest Management Meeting not only highlighted the persistent challenges facing potato cultivation but also showcased a vibrant array of solutions and innovations. As the industry continues to face pressures from pests and diseases, the insights from this meeting underscore the importance of continued research and collaboration in overcoming these hurdles.

This event promises to have a lasting impact on how growers and agronomists approach pest and disease management, driving forward the potato industry’s sustainability and productivity goals.

Source: Dr. Jeff Miller. Online news story here
Please get in touch with Jeff Miller at jeff@millerresearch.com