Late Blight of potato in Ireland: an analysis of historical climate data
Joan de Lacey
Blightlink, eBandon Enterprise Centre, South Main Street, Bandon, Co. Cork, Ireland
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork
Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork
Annual losses in the European Union due to Late Blight of potato have been estimated at more than €1billion. The causal agent is the oomycete Phytophthora infestans, a major pathogen of the global potato crop. This project will use the Met Éireann Re-Analysis (MÉRA) dataset, a 35-year very high resolution climate reanalysis for Ireland to assess the impact of climate change on Late Blight outbreaks. The first objective of this research project is to analyse the relative humidity data of the MÉRA dataset. Relative humidity is of significance in plant health and physiology; occurrence of disease and hence agricultural economic yield. Comparison with historical meteorological data recorded at Irish weather stations will enable any bias in the MÉRA data set to be quantified. Other variables to be considered include temperature, total precipitation and the derived effective blight hours. The results will provide valuable historical information on potato late blight risk by location in Ireland.