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Bacterial soft rot potato disease

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

soft-rot-potatoWhile growing potato gardeners face problem of soft rot potato disease. Soft rot potato disease is caused by Erwinia carotovora or Erwinia chrysanthemi (Pectobacterium sp. and Dickeya sp). This potato disease spreads by seed tubers, insects, or irrigation water.
Other than sanitation, planting seed not infested with Erwinia and irrigating with clean water, there are few control options for soft rot.
Potato tubers with soft rot symptoms can dry out and the rotten area becomes hard and wooden. Some investigators have termed this symptom “hard rot,” but this term is not commonly used. Erwinia can survive in this dried out tissue for long periods of time.

Soft rot  on tubers, lesions can be as small as a single eye or involve the entire tuber. The rot is extremely soft and colorless. Although rot of the soft rot bacterium is relatively odor free, secondary organisms usually cause a foul smell.

Management and control of potato soft rot

To prevent soft rot do not over-irrigate fields during the growing potato season.
Harvest only mature tubers when soil temperatures are less than 10C. Minimize mechanical damage during harvest and handling.
Protect tubers from desiccation by sun and wind.

Cool tubers of early cultivars to 10C or lower as soon as possible after harvest then store them at 2 to 5C.  For late potatoes store tubers for 7-10 days at 10-15C to promote wound healing, then lower temperature to 2 – 5oC (7-10C for processing tubers).
Provide good ventilation to prevent low oxygen concentrations and development of moisture films on tuber surfaces.
Do not wash tubers before storage. If washing is necessary before marketing, dry the tubers as soon as possible and package them in well-aerated containers.
When washing use only clean water and change it frequently to reduce the soft rot inoculum level. Control other diseases that predispose tubers to soft rot. -the Ultimate Garden Center

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