Potatoes are vegetatively propagated; cutting the seed tubers is a common practice followed by growers as a way to increase seed availability for planting. However, this practice poses a risk of mechanical transmission of diseases. Manufacturers currently disinfect seed cutting equipment between seed lots using chlorine or quaternary ammonium compounds. While this practice is effective in containing the spread of the disease between seed lots, there is a constant risk of disease transmission when tubers are cut.
Tyler Thompson (former Farm Manager at the San Louis Valley Research Center) worked with Ronald Price (Research Farm Technician at the San Louis Valley Research Center) to develop a Flame Sterilizing Potato Seed Tuber Cutting Machine.
The basic concept of this invention involves heating seed cutting discs (using a fuel mixture of acetylene and compressed air) to about 250°F to effectively kill all pathogens, thereby limiting the spread of disease. A patent application describing this innovative technology has also been filed with CSUVentures.