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[R] Solanum tuberosum L. (Solanaceae).
Fr: Pomme de terre; Ge: Kartoffel; Sp: Patata; It: Patata; Pt: Batateira.
- Perennial plant with white or purple flowers, undergoes self fertilization, producing a hardy underground stem or stolon whose extremities, inflated by reserves of starch, form tubers (*) .
- Originating in the Andes mountains, they were introduced to Europe in the 16th century and are currently cultivated throughout the world.
- The tubers of the potato are very important in human nutrition and in food industries. The commercial quality of the tubers and the resistance of the plant to diseases are factors that must be weighed against the plant's productivity in the choice of a given variety. The colour and the quality of the flesh, the colour of the skin as well as the form of the tuber differ with variety and influence consumer choice. Other important criteria affecting choice of variety are their aptitude for transformation (fried products, dehydrated products, canned, prepared foods, distillation, starches), their ability to be stored, and the duration of their dormant period when the tubers will not germinate.
- Plants are obtained through vegetative reproduction from "mother" tubers placed to germinate in a seed-bed and then planted in an open field.
- Diseases: downy mildew (Phytophthora infestans) is the most dangerous disease, which may seriously diminish the harvest to the point of complete loss. Attacks of black scurf of potato (Rhizoctonia solani) which manifests itself at germination may also seriously affect the yield.
Phoma exigua, Fusarium spp. and different bacterial rots may cause varying degrees of loss during storage. Common potato scab (Streptomyces scabies) as well as (Helminthosporium solani) and black scurf of potato (Rhizoctonia solani) decrease the marketability of the tubers.
- Principal European pests: the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), a pest, originating in the United States of America, that posed serious problems in Europe, except for Great Britain. Currently, it seems to have been overcome almost everywhere.
The (Globodera rostochiensis), the (Globodera pallida), and many species of root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne ) generate galls on the roots.
The stem may be nibbled by the larvae of noctuid moths including the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum). In addition to the Colorado beetle, the potato flea beetle, Psylliodes affinis (Paykull) (Col., Chrysomelidae), the common green capsid, Lygus pabulinus (L.) (Het., Miridae), and certain aphids including the peach-potato aphid (Myzus persicae), the potato aphid (Macrosiphum euphorbiae), the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae) and the glasshouse and potato aphid (Aulacorthum solani), as well as the vine leafhopper (Empoasca vitis), attack the leaves.
The following leave bite marks on the tubers: cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) and the field slug (Deroceras reticulatum).

[R] Images

* Potato plant (Minost C.)
a: root; b: tubercule (end of a tuberous stolon); c: leaf composite, 3-5 pairs of leaflets and one terminal leaflet, with many small folioles; d: flowers white or violet, arranged in a biparous cyme; e: fruit = berry spherical, greenish then mauvish.

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HYPPZ on line: Species (scientific names), Pests (common names), Glossary, Crops.

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