N.B. to order post-harvest testing on seed potatoes

All seed potatoes destined for planting in New Brunswick will need to be sent for post-harvest lab tests for a common spud virus, starting next year.

“This proposal for legislative amendments is probably the single biggest thing that government can do to help the potato sector,” provincial Agriculture Minister Mike Olscamp said in a release Thursday.

Amendments introduced Thursday to the provincial Potato Disease Eradication Act would require harvested seed stock to be sent for testing for potato virus Y (PVY), the most common viral disease in the province’s potato crops.

The results of the tests would then be reviewed by an advisory council of industry representatives, who would then recommend to the minister what the maximum PVY levels should be.

The testing program would be instituted “gradually,” the province said, thus giving potato growers a few years to adjust to the testing regime and work to lower the virus levels in their potato seed.

Planting seed with low levels of the yield-reducing virus is seen as “the most important step” in controlling it, the province said.

The measure was first promised Nov. 23 in the provincial Throne speech as a way “to ensure only low-virus seed potatoes are planted in New Brunswick.”

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