A recent discovery in an Idaho potato field has Northwest spud growers worried. Researchers this week reported that insects from the Twin Falls area tested positive for bacteria that cause “zebra chip disease.”
The disease doesn’t pose a health risk to humans but potato researcher Andy Jensen says it can render entire crops un-marketable.
“If you take an infected tuber and you slice it and fry it like a potato chip -- it develops stripes that look just like zebra stripes," Jensen explains. "I mean a farmer can’t sell something that’s affected by this.”
Jensen says the disease also gives french fries and chips made from the infected potatoes a bitter taste.
Zebra chip disease first turned up in the region’s potato fields last year, with discoveries in Oregon, Idaho and Washington. But so far, they’ve only been isolated cases.
Texas has not been so lucky -- growers there have reported losses of millions of dollars since the disease first hit in the year 2000.
On the Web:
Northwest Potato Research
USDA - Fight Against Zebra Chip Disease:
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