a potato with soft rot and white mould growing on it

Top 10 Most Common Pests And Diseases In Potatoes: the most common problems for new growers

  1. Introduction

Growing potatoes can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to stay vigilant and keep an eye out for the most common pests and diseases that can harm your crops. In this article, I’ll share with you the top 10 most common pests and diseases that affect potatoes, as well as some helpful tips on how to prevent and control them. So, let’s dive in and learn how to keep our potato plants healthy and thriving!


1. Colorado Potato Beetle

Colorado potato beetles are small, yellow and black-striped beetles that can cause significant damage to potato plants. They feed on the foliage, which can lead to reduced yields or even plant death.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Rotate crops to reduce the chances of infestation.
  • Introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, that feed on the beetles.
  • Handpick beetles and their larvae from the plants.
  • Use insecticides selectively, as the beetles may develop resistance.

2. Aphids

Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can transmit viruses to potato plants, leading to stunted growth and reduced yield.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Encourage natural predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings.
  • Use insecticidal soaps or neem oil to control aphid populations.
  • Monitor plants regularly and take action as soon as aphids are detected.

3. Wireworms

Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles, and they feed on the roots and tubers of potato plants, causing tunnels and holes that can lead to rot and reduce the quality of your harvest.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Implement crop rotation, as it helps to break the lifecycle of wireworms.
  • Use bait traps to monitor and control wireworm populations.
  • Apply chemical insecticides as a last resort, following label instructions carefully.

4. White grubs

White grubs are the larvae of various beetle species, such as June beetles and Japanese beetles. They feed on the roots of potato plants, causing wilting and reduced growth.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Implement crop rotation to break the lifecycle of white grubs.
  • Use beneficial nematodes or milky spore to control white grub populations.
  • Handpick adult beetles and remove them from the garden.

5. Leafhoppers

Leafhoppers are small, green or yellow insects that can transmit diseases to potato plants, such as the aster yellows phytoplasma, which causes leaf curling and stunted growth.

Prevention and control measures:


6. Late blight

Late blight is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora infestans, which can cause severe damage to potato plants. It appears as dark, water-soaked spots on the leaves, which eventually turn brown and collapse.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Choose resistant potato varieties.
  • Practice proper sanitation by removing and destroying infected plant debris.
  • Apply fungicides to protect plants from infection.

7. Early blight

Early blight is another fungal disease that affects potatoes, caused by Alternaria solani. It causes small, dark lesions on the leaves, which enlarge and form concentric rings.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Plant disease-resistant potato varieties.
  • Rotate crops to prevent the buildup of fungal spores in the soil.
  • Apply appropriate fungicides to protect plants from infection.

8. Potato scab

Potato scab is a bacterial disease caused by Streptomyces scabies, which results in rough, corky lesions on the tubers. It affects the appearance and quality of the potatoes but does not usually impact yield.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Plant resistant varieties.
  • Maintain optimal soil pH levels (5.2-5.5) to discourage bacterial growth.
  • Avoid overwatering, as wet soil conditions favor the development of the disease.

9. Verticillium Wilt

Verticillium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease that causes potato plants to wilt, turn yellow, and eventually die. The fungus, Verticillium dahliae, can survive in the soil for several years.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Plant resistant potato varieties.
  • Implement crop rotation with non-host plants to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Improve soil drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can facilitate the spread of the fungus.

10. Blackleg and Soft Rot

Blackleg and soft rot are bacterial diseases caused by Pectobacterium and Dickeya species. They cause dark, wet lesions on stems and tubers, leading to decay and a foul smell.

Prevention and control measures:

  • Use certified disease-free seed potatoes.
  • Avoid planting in cold, wet soils.
  • Monitor plants for symptoms and remove any infected plants to prevent the spread of bacteria.
  1. Summary

In conclusion, there are several common pests and diseases that can affect your potato plants, but early detection and prevention can help keep your crops healthy and productive. By implementing strategies like crop rotation, proper sanitation, and choosing resistant varieties, you can significantly reduce the impact of these pests and diseases. Remember to keep an eye on your potato plants, and don’t hesitate to take action if you notice any signs of trouble. Happy growing!