Planting has continued pretty much un-hindered throughout April. A period of much needed rainfall in the west slowed progress for a week or so, but when planting got underway again seed-beds were even better. Those who have managed to time there cultivations just right have achieved some fantastic seed-beds and relatively cheaply, although I have come across the odd field being thrashed to death with a bed-tiller.

Seed has generally been of good quality and, as seems to be the norm these days, planted further than anticipated, with a number of growers having to dump or stock feed the surplus. Something else to remind growers of the cost of production!

Crop emergence has been extremely steady up until now. Those who didn’t apply a seed treatment to seed that had black scurf on it maybe wishing they had, with slow emergence allowing stem and stolon pruning to occur. A couple of very frosty nights has also steadied progress, particularly in the lower lying parts of fields.

On the plus side, weed control so far has been very good, using alternate facing angled nozzles really does give good coverage. Timing is everything with potato weed control, with the aim being to avoid any post-emergence applications. If conditions are moist soon after the beds have settled, then in my opinion, it may be worth applying the residual products, while holding back the contact element until just before crop emergence. This would be preferable to allow the beds to dry up again, thus minimising the effect of a later applied residual spray.

If the beds remain dry after planting, then I suggest you should definitely hold off and hope to apply the whole mix onto a moist bed 2-3 days before crop emergence – this is the ideal. It does mean that regular digs across crops are required to know when spraying should be timed.

Soon thoughts will turn to blight sprays and when to start.