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Easing Potato Woes

Solutions sought for dry rot, sprouting

(HealthDayNews) -- Bacteria may soon offer a natural solution to two costly potato problems. While neither potato dry rot or sprouting are harmful to people, either can prove that a spud's a dud.

Potato dry rot, a kind of fungus, grows in nicks or cuts suffered when the potato is dug up or trucked to storage houses. Sprouts, which grow out of potato 'eyes', are discarded along with spoiled sections affected by dry rot. Chemicals and fungicides used by the potato industry to prevent the problems are falling out of favor.

Agricultural Research Service plant pathologists in Illinois are experimentally spraying potatoes with Pseudomonas and other bacterial cousins as a sort of biological bandage. The bacteria, a natural enemy of dry rot, has the added benefit of preventing 70% or more of the sprouting likely to occur on improperly stored potatoes.

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