Management of Bacterial Wilt [Rhalstonia solanacearum Yabuuchi et al., 1995] of Potatoes: Opportunity for Host Resistance in Kenya

  •  Jane Muthoni    
  •  Hussein Shimelis    
  •  Rob Melis    


This article gives a general overview of bacterial wilt of potatoes and its management. It also highlights the potential of host resistance as an important component of integrated management of bacterial wilt in Kenya. Bacterial wilt has spread to all potato growing areas in Kenya, affecting over 70% of potato farms and causing yield losses of between 50 to 100%. This disease has no effective means of control because crop protection chemicals are ineffective and expensive and biological control agents are ineffective. In addition, phytosanitary methods such as quarantine are either expensive or difficult to apply and cultural methods such as crop rotations are largely impractical because the farms are too small to allow effective rotation, the pathogen has a wide host range, and it persists for long in the soil. Development of resistant cultivars could therefore play an important role in managing the disease. More resistant potato clones have recently been identified by CIP scientists, and this resistance needs to be incorporated into the popular but susceptible Kenyan potato cultivars so as to increase potato production in Kenya. For better results, use of high resistant varieties may be coupled with use of disease-free tubers and clean fields.

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