Recent unsettled, humid weather has created ideal conditions for potato blight development, so growers must monitor crops closely and take advantage of any spraying opportunities, the British Potato Council has advised.

Outbreaks began in early crops during April, about a month earlier than normal, making for a long blight campaign, said the BPC’s Rob Clayton.

“We’re very conscious that there’s been a broad bank of Smith Periods recently, which puts us into a fairly high risk situation.

There is also a large amount of unpredictability about where blight will occur due to recent storms, making it even more important for growers to monitor local Smith Periods and blight outbreaks closely, he said.

“We saw a similar situation in 2006, when there were big [blight] problems in the southeast on the back of heavy rainfall preventing spraying.”

Growers can register to receive free blight alerts at www.potato.org.uk/blight