HC Deb 07 May 1891 vol 353 cc278-9

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Agriculture if the Agricultural Department have any in formation whether seed potatoes recently distributed in the many Poor Law Unions in Ireland can withstand the "Phytopthora infestans," if planted in fields or gardens previously infected with the fungus, when such fields or gardens are not cleared of all haulm and leafage, as well as every infected tuber; what period of time should be permitted to elapse prior to re - planting seed potatoes after infection of such fields or gardens; and whether he is aware that "oospores" are now proved to have been obtained direct from the ground where they were deposited by filtration; and, if so, whether any means can be recommended for destroying this cause of infection?


We have no information at the Board of Agriculture as to what seed potatoes have been distributed by the Irish Government, and I am, therefore, unable to give specific replies to the various questions of the hon. Member, which only appeared on the Paper this morning. I may mention, however, for the guidance of the hon. Member that he will find full information on the various branches of this subject in articles which have been published in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England for the years 1873–1876 by Mr. Carruthers, consulting botanist to the Society, and by Professor A. De Bary, of the University of Strasbourg; in the Report of a Select Committee of this House in 1880 (potato blight), and in the Annual Report just issued by the Intelligence Department of the Board of Agriculture, in which a chapter is devoted to the life history of the "phytopthora infestans" and the effect of "oospores" in propagating this fungus. I may add that a leaflet containing the results of recent experiments abroad and dealing with the methods of arresting the disease has been prepared, and will be issued directly by the Board of Agriculture. If the hon. Member desires to know anything further than what is contained in the documents to which I have referred him, and will give me somewhat longer notice, I shall be delighted to place at his disposal all the information which is possessed by the Board of Agriculture.