Late blight and early blight, caused by Phytophthora infestans and Alternaria spp. respectively, severely threaten both the foliage and harvested products (tubers/fruits) of potato and tomato crops in Europe and worldwide. In Europe, the cost of late blight alone, including control and losses, is estimated at about 900 M€ a year. This annual cost exceeds 5 B€ globally.
Research and extension efforts are needed to achieve integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, as required by EU Directive 2009/128/EC and by the priorities of the Green Deal and Farm to Fork initiatives launched by the EU as part of the Horizon Europe strategic framework programme. In order to reach this goal, three major objectives can be identified:
understand the composition of pathogen populations, their genetic evolution and the biological, climatic and anthropogenic drivers behind their invasive success
develop innovative, effective and sustainable Integrated Pest Management strategies which consolidate and exploit population information, climate predictions, available management tools (conventional pesticides, resistant cultivars, biocontrol options, early detection and warning) and cutting-edge information technologies;
provide optimal deployment and stewardship of effective control methods to maximize their benefits whilst mitigating the risk of reduced efficacy due to pathogen changes.
These themes remain the core and rationale for EuroBlight, a very active multi-disciplinary, multi-actor consortium and network launched with initial funding from the EU and which has met regularly since 1996 with a clear overall objective: to identify, evaluate and combine the best possible tools to predict, manage and control late blight and early blight.
EuroBlight has developed into a unique collaborative platform from which the challenges that early and late blight pose in Europe and worldwide can be identified and tackled. Its biennial workshops, typically hosting 100-120 delegates from Europe, South America, USA, Africa, and Asia allow key research and extension priorities to be identified and formulated into collective Statements that underpin joint actions and international collaborations for improved IPM strategies.
A European network of scientists and other specialists working on potato early and late blight meet every second year. The network combines two previous networks originating from European Concerted Actions and has 150 members.
EU.NET.ICP: “European network for development of an integrated control strategy of potato late blight” (1996-2000). Coordinated by Huub Schepers
EUCABLIGHT: “A potato late blight network for Europe” (2003-2006). Coordinated by Alison Lees.
The 19th workshop was hosted by Agroscope at Monte Veritá in Ascona
The main objective of the Workshop was to present and discuss recent results on integrated control of late blight (Phytophthora infestans) and early blight (Alternaria spp.). Specific themes was:
Fungicide resistance avoidance strategies and use of alternative products to control late blight and early blight
Exploiting knowledge of the host, the pathogens and the interactions for improved control strategies and DSSs
Precision agriculture - success stories and how to break barriers
Global issues - how can a global view of pathogen information help the individual farmer?