It is vital we avoid introducing new plant health problems, warns Mark Prentice, the UK Potato Council head of seed and export, who organised this year's Seed Industry Event at Crieff Hydro on October 26.
The chair of the Canadian Horticultural Council, Keith Kuhl, spoke about plant health challenges faced by Canadian growers and how they addressed them.
"There are many parallels that we can draw between what happened in Canada and what could happen here if new diseases such as Ring Rot and Dickeya are permitted to take hold," said Mr Prentice. "Mr Kuhl also highlighted the importance of communication within industry and between industry and Government."
Continuing the theme of plant health, Prof Anton Haverkort of Plant Research International, Wageningen in the Netherlands, examined some of the global trends to which breeding is expected to respond, including greater disease resistance.
Lively discussions at the workshops followed as growers discussed their own concerns directly with researchers. This year topics included the latest results from the research funded by Potato Council and the Scottish Government on the blackleg-type disease ‘Dickeya solani' with Dr John Elphinstone from Fera and Prof Ian Toth from SCRI. In addition, Dr Stuart Wale and Dr Jon Ogborne held a workshop on effective seed treatments.
Principal research scientist Dr Brian Fenton from SCRI updated delegates on the latest results from the Potato Council's three-year project on aphid-borne potato potyviruses (PVY and PVA).
The event also focused on the consumer and the need to supply what the consumer wants. Caroline Evans, Potato Council head of marketing gave a workshop on this theme, and in the afternoon session, delegates heard from John Wiskerke, director of raw and supply chain from Lamb Weston Meijer and seed grower Tony Bambridge.
The event rounded up with the traditional dinner and awards ceremony.
"The feedback from delegates on the top-class speakers from home and abroad has been very positive," commented Mr Prentice. "We can draw many parallels with the challenges our international speakers have faced in their own countries and we can learn from each other the best way to address issues such as plant health threats.
"There was a high level of participation in discussions demonstrating the importance to the industry of the plant health, seed production and the market."