PAY CLOSE attention to detail to achieve effective results from potato seed treatment this spring, growers have been told.

Protecting seed against rhizoctonia infection can deliver both yield and quality benefits, even under the most severe infection conditions, said Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture‘s George Little.

Mr Little highlighted some key steps growers using liquid treatments should follow:

  • Leave tubers for a few days at 10-12°C after they come out of store to let wounds heal
  • Ensure roller tables are correctly calibrated and use smaller rollers
  • Avoid packing tubers too tightly onto tables
  • Keep tuber handling to a minimum throughout treatment
  • Let seed dry thoroughly before returning to store to avoid rotting

Rhizoctonia incidence tends to be worse on lighter soils and less prevalent on heavy soil, added British Potato Council plant pathologist, Geoff Peters.

While he acknowledged the benefits of both liquid and powder treatments, he urged growers to rationalise their use and also to assess seed borne disease levels.

Treating seed prior to planting on a roller table offers a more controlled environment than treating on the planter, Mr Little noted.

“The job is out of the way before planting commences, so can be completed more quickly, and operator exposure on the planter is also minimised.”

Growers without facilities for treating their own seed should buy in pre-treated seed, he suggested.