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May 2004. Potato with leaf curl from the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The leaves of affected plants show signs of veinal chlorosis, leaf puckering, reduced leaf size, leaf tip die back or burning, shorter stem internodes producing a rossette, as seen in the picture. The potato variety is cv. Granula imported in bulk ( 5 tonnes ) from Victoria, Australia and planted straight away. The symptoms were observed commencing 2 weeks after planting, and severe in the fourth week after planting. At 6 weeks most of the plants grew out of the symptom and continued growing normally. It was unclear whether it is due to physilogy of the variety, influence of the environmentr or caused by a biotic (viruses) agent.
There were several suggestions:
They are not normally seen on the distorted leaves as they are in the growing point and the feeding causes distortion and cupping of the leaves as they enlarge. Try whatever miticides you have available. The distorted leaves will stay distorted, but that new growth should come out healthy.
Insects – jassids
These are poplyphagous, attacking peanuts, aibika Abelmoschus esculentum), beans, etc. The insects are green and fast moving, living on the underside of the leaves. The symptoms disappear once the affected plants are sprayed with permenthrin at 0.5litres/ha. Also, if left unsprayed, the symptoms in peanuts disappear in5-7weeks. However, with aibika the symptoms persist and plants may be killed.
Many of the highland soils are acid pH 4.5-5.0 and research by AFTSEMU and EYL (I think this was the World Bank project in Enga) showed very high levels of P fixation. Could the potatoes ne showing a nutrient problem which the plant is later growing out of as further roots develop. What fertilizers are being applied, is additional P being applied? Also, how are farmers applying the fertilizer; there was a situation in the early 90’s where Engan and WHP farmers where having troubles with burns, cupped and strange leaves, etc. It turned out that a major supplier started importing fertilizer from a different source and farmers had problems if they where applying this fertilizer in direct contact with the seed, when planting in rows, or not mixing the fertilizer well with the soil, when planting in individual holes. The potato seed production stations who were banding fertilizer a distance from the seed had no problems. It may be worthwhile to dig up a few plants and have a few farmers demonstrate their planting techniques.