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Impact of single-season Potato virus Y epidemics on small mixed-acreage vegetable farms

Sarah Ruark: Cornell University

<div>Potato virus Y (PVY) is a major disease of potato capable of causing severe yield losses. Infected seed potatoes and volunteers are considered the major source of inoculum for the emerging potato crop as well as for other susceptible crops grown nearby. The degree to which PVY moves between solanaceous crops in diverse agricultural settings has not been well-studied. In the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts, growers produce a mixture of solanaceous crops including potato, tobacco, tomato, pepper, and eggplant on small adjacent acreages. Between 2015 and 2017, field surveys were conducted on several small mixed-acreage vegetable farms surrounding Amherst, MA to determine the identity and prevalence of PVY strains present in the region. ELISA and multiplex RT-PCR identified several strains present and moving between potato, tobacco, and tomato fields. We only detected a single strain of PVY in two pepper plants in 2016. No infections were detected in eggplant. PVY management options are limited and minimizing inoculum by planting certified seed is advised, but this may not be cost-effective in all scenarios. A partial budget analysis revealed factors that should be considered prior to implementation of this strategy by growers in this region.</div>