WITH A blight hot spot developing in Shropshire, potato growers have been warned to be extra vigilant for the disease.

ADAS blight expert Nick Bradshaw warned that growers faced the extra challenge of varied crop emergence this year, with late-planted crops yet to emerge.

Haulm growth on earlier planted crops is already meeting along the rows and spray programmes have started, he pointed out.

“If blight establishes itself in early emerging maincrops, the inoculum pressure on later planted crops will be intense and spray intervals will need adapting,” he said.

The British Potato Council Fight Against Blight 2004 campaign has already started.

Infections have been recorded in Kent, north Norfolk, Shropshire and Cheshire by BPC blight scouts, who sent plant samples off for laboratory analysis.

“Recently there have been several blight outbreaks in Shropshire and a ‘hot spot‘ appears to be developing which could cause problems in the area for the rest of the season,” added Mr Bradshaw.

“Destruction of growth on dumps and as volunteers therefore remains a high priority to make sure a lid is kept on spore production.”

More on the Fight against Blight campaign, and nationwide blight alerts, can be found on the BPC website.