Effect of Cultural Practices in Controlling Southern Blight of Potato in the Mid-Atlantic Region

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2017: $16,413.00
Projected End Date: 08/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Virginia Tech
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Dr. Steven Rideout
Virginia Tech


  • Agronomic: potatoes


  • Crop Production: varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Pest Management: cultural control, integrated pest management, Disease management

    Proposal abstract:

    This proposed research will evaluate the effect of planting date, cultivar, and their interaction in controlling southern blight (Sclerotium rolfssi Sacc.) on potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), in field and post-harvest settings. Potato is a worldwide and nationally important crop, and recently an increase of southern blight has been observed on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region, where research on management of S. rolfsii in potato is needed. Factorial arrangement of 4 planting dates and 10 cultivars will be evaluated in split plot design in a field trial established at the Virginia Tech Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center, in Painter, VA. The field trial and potato tubers in the post-harvest study will be inoculated with a virulent strain of S. rolfsii. The main goal is to assess southern blight incidence and generate information that growers can potentially use to manage the disease. Furthermore, this research aims to contribute to the sustainability of crop production in sensitive environmental areas such as the Eastern Shore of VA, by providing alternative management practices that are not dependent on pesticide use. The data collected will be statistically analyzed using SAS with a 5% significance level, and the information generated could be transmitted to growers, agricultural specialists, and scientists through presentations, field days, and workshops, among others.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The main objective is to identify potential cultural control options in managing southern blight to ensure the sustainability of potato production in regions impacted by this disease. This research will provide valuable information to the growers through proper dissemination in a short-term fashion, through the following objectives:
    1. Evaluate the effect of planting dates on southern blight incidence in potato, by establishing field trials examining 4 different planting dates and assessing disease incidence, yield parameters, and tuber quality.
    2. Evaluate the effect of cultivar and the interaction with planting dates on the incidence of southern blight, by initiating field trials with 10 popular cultivars and assessing disease incidence, yield parameters and tuber quality.
    3. Determine the effect of planting dates and cultivars in the susceptibility of post-harvest infection by S. rolfsii, through the evaluation of the potato tuber susceptibility.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.