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Potato Laboratory, Tops, Raphoe, Co. Donegal

Introduction

The Potato Propagation Centre, known as the Tops, is located approximately 2.5 km south east of Raphoe, Co. Donegal and is part of the Seed Certification Division of the Department. The Centre comprises a Laboratory, farm and potato stores.

Background

The Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and Ireland are synonymous. This is mainly due to the potato's association with the famine of the late 1840s, but can also be attributed to the importance of the seed potato crop to the economy of the country from the early 1930s. The natural advantage possessed by this country for the production of high-class seed potatoes was realized by the Department of Agriculture in 1918, when they became the first official body in Europe to establish a Seed Potato Certification Scheme. This system relied on field inspections to weed out diseased potato plants, so that only tubers certified as being grown from healthy plants were used to produce a crop of potatoes.

With the advancement of science, laboratory testing of seed tubers to ensure freedom from diseases, especially viral diseases, became an integral part of the Certification Scheme. This work was carried out for the Department of Agriculture at the Plant Pathology Department UCD, until the purchase of the facility at Tops, Raphoe in 1972. The current Potato Laboratory at Tops, Raphoe, Co. Donegal was opened in 1988.

Services Provided

Main Aims

  • To produce Pre-Basic potato seed (minitubers) as per Annex 1 of Commission Directive 93/17/EEC to meet Seed Grower requirements.
  • To ensure the highest possible health standards in Seed Potatoes.
  • To provide an efficient and credible laboratory testing service.
  • To maintain an in vitro collection of potato varieties.
  • Testing of new varieties entered for plant breeder rights for distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS).

Activities

  • Production of approximately 30,000 minitubers from virus-free microplants.
  • Test microplants, mini-tubers and seed crops (for the general certification scheme) for Potato Virus X (PVX), Potato Virus Y (PVY), Potato Virus YN (PVYN), Potato Virus A (PVA), Potato Virus S (PVS) and Potato Leaf Roll Virus (PLRV) using the Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) method.
  • Maintenance of varieties by clonal selection, meristem tip-culture and in vitro regeneration to produce microplants (approx. 400 varieties).
  • Elimination of viruses from virus-infected microplants by chemo/thermo-therapy.
  • Thiabendazole (TBZ) residue testing of tubers.
  • Conduct potato wart disease (PWD) susceptibility trials on potentially new varieties.

Posters

Potato Virus Diagnostic Service (pdf 3,160Kb) 

Producing Healthy Seed Potato Tubers (pdf 1,770Kb) 

Forms

Minituber Application Form (doc 24Kb) 

Useful Links

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food Seed Certification Division

Skerry Champion

Contact us

Potato Laboratory, Tops, Raphoe, Co. Donegal, Ireland.

Tel: 00353 (0)74 914 5488 / 914 5490

Fax :00353 (0)74 914 5262