MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin potato producers are facing new restrictions aimed at preventing crop disease.

Gov. Scott Walker signed two new measures involving potato growers Wednesday, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

One measure requires potato growers to use certified seeds if planting on five or more acres of land. The state’s seed certification program through the University of Wisconsin-Madison ensures that seeds are free of damaging levels of viruses or diseases.

“Certified seed goes through a various amount of lab testing too before it can be replanted so the commercial grower that’s buying the seed knows that it’s virtually free of any disease that may cause a yield or harvest or storage limitations,” said Alex Crockford, the program’s director.

About 2 percent of growers in the state don’t use certified potato seeds, said Tamas Houlihan, executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association. Crockford said that’s because many potato processors require them.

The other law says farmers now have 24 hours to treat plants with light blight or 72 hours to destroy them after being notified by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Farmers previously had 10 days to address the issue.

“These diseases are not just that grower’s problem,” Houlihan said. “They can spread through the wind and rain and get on neighboring fields.”


Information from: Wisconsin Public Radio, http://www.wpr.org