The incidence of detecting the A2 blight strain in the UK has risen from 10% to 38% of sites tested in the past decade, research by the British Potato Council has revealed.

While the A1 strain continues to be by far the most dominant type, the increase in A2 means growers need to continue to be vigilant.

Current fungicide programmes, varieties, and warning systems were providing a robust defence against blight and there was every reason to trust current best practice to keep blight at bay, the BPC’s Mike Storey said.

“Growers should ensure they maintain fungicide programmes that their buyers are happy with. Above all, we all need to stay alert for signs of blight and control sources of infection such as outgrade piles and volunteers.”

No oospores have been detected – which would indicate that the two strains had mated – the BPC said.

Dr Storey praised the work of the blight scouts who have reported blight outbreaks as part of the BPC’s Fight Against Blight campaign.

“The FAB has been enormously successful at raising awareness of blight and highlighting best practice. The work in 2005 has highlighted the need for further research into blight populations so that the BPC can ensure growers stay one step ahead. We are already working with the R & D community to identify future work.”

More information on the 2006 FAB campaign will appear on the BPC’s website.