- Potato

Potato Potato

Blackleg of Potato


Pectobacterium atrosepticum

In a Nutshell

  • Water-soaked lesions at the base of the stem.
  • Later progress up the plant.
  • The internal tissues of the stem rot and turn black.
  • Wilting and yellowing of leaves with curled margins.
 - Potato

Potato Potato


Blackleg usually first shows as water-soaked lesions at the base of the stem. The lesions later coalesce, darken and progress up the stem. The internal tissues of the stem rot and turn black, hindering the adequate supply of water and nutrients to the aerial parts of the plants. Leaves on affected stems may wilt and become first chlorotic and later brown, with their margins curled. Plants may collapse or can be easily pulled out from the soil. Tubers generally start to blacken and rot at the stolon attachment site. As the disease progresses either the entire tuber or just the inner core might decay.

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Disease development usually starts with the rotting of the seed tuber before or soon after emergence. Moist conditions favor the development of the rot. Planting sites with high soil compaction and waterlogging are especially vulnerable to blackleg. The bacterium enters the plant via rotten roots or dead leaves near the ground. Damage of the plants from insects or tools can result in wounds that serve as entry points for the pathogen.

Organic Control

No biological approach is possible against the bacteria

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. To prevent the spread of the pathogen copper compounds may be used. However, such compounds may harm the environment and human health

Preventive Measures

  • Use seeds from healthy plants or from certified sources.
  • Check for tolerant varieties.
  • Plant the whole seed tuber and not parts of it.
  • Do not plant potatoes in cold soil with temperatures under 10°C.
  • Use adequate fertilization, particularly nitrogen.
  • Employ crop rotation with nonhost plants for 2-3 years.
  • Drain the fields appropriately and avoid overwatering.
  • Monitor the fields and remove infected plants.
  • Avoid injuries to the plant during maintenance work or harvest.
  • Disinfect tools, stores and machinery used for cropping.
  • Remove all plant debris from the field after harvest.
  • Expose the soil to solar radiation after harvest.
  • Harvest potatoes in dry conditions and store them in a well-ventilated place without temperature fluctuations.

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