The Ag Peer Group in Northwest Minnesota learned more about potato production in Ecuador, including the 550 varieties of native potatoes. Potatoes are grown each season, which means farmers are facing disease challenges, specifically late blight and purple top. “That’s why farmers have applied a lot of fungicides. Purple top is just an emerging problem,” says Israel Navarrete, a doctorate student working at the National Institute of Agricultural Research. “It appeared four years ago, and we’re still trying to understand how it works. Small farmers would buy the seed at the market, and then they acquire purple top.” Navarrete says it’s common to have farmers apply fungicide more than 20 times. Researchers are working to fix this problem.
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