Early blight and white mold—and the yield and quality loss due to these and other potato pests—are the top concerns of many potato growers.

Those are the results of the Potato Perspectives Survey that Bayer CropScience, Research Triangle Park, N.C., conducted among attendees of the Potato Expo, Jan. 8-10, in San Antonio.

Of those surveyed, 48 percent said early blight and white mold were the most difficult diseases to control in 2013.

When asked to be more specific about pest pressures, grower participants ranked early blight and white mold equally tough, each with 25 percent. They were followed by nematodes and silver scurf, each with 13 percent; psyllids (8 percent); and black scurf (6 percent).

Going into this season, 63 percent of respondents said controlling yield and quality loss due to insects and diseases were critical for a successful harvest.

Participating retailers agreed, with 37 percent identifying enhanced crop quality as a top necessity.

And 34 percent of other industry members cited the need for controlling disease and pest resistance as key issues moving into the new year.

Other key survey results included:

• Slightly more than half—54 percent—of retailers surveyed cited the increased price of potato production and changes in import and export patterns as critical concerns for teh 2014 season.

• When asked about biotechnology and genetic engineering, 42 percent of grower respondents, 35 percent of retailer respondents and 46 percent of other industry members said they believed the technology may be able to expand potato production and crop yields.