Blackleg development and tuber yield in relation to numbers of Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica on seed potatoes



The relationship between number of viable cells of Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica on inoculated potato seed tubers and blackleg development was investigated in 2 years for five cultivars grown in the contrasting climates of Scotland and Israel. Blackleg, and to a lesser extent non-emergence, increased with higher numbers of bacteria on the seed tubers at planting. This relationship was also found for several commercial seed stocks of one cultivar naturally contaminated with different numbers of E. carotovora subsp. atroseptica.The threshold number of bacteria necessary for the development of blackleg declined during the growing season and was also higher for the cultivar Pentland Crown in comparison with the others. In general, yield declined linearly with blackleg incidence and there was a 0.8% reduction in yield for every 1 % blackleg at 13 weeks after planting. Yield loss was positively related to the incidence of blackleg late in the season, whereas the relationship between yield loss and the incidence of non-emergence was poor.