23 November 2001

Early clearance for spud stores

BE prepared to clear potato stores earlier than planned, delegates at the Syngenta Potato Conference were warned. With a high risk of rotting this season, growers need to monitor stores carefully to avoid disastrous losses.

"Late harvested potatoes, particularly from East Anglia, were loaded into store damp, dirty and, because of late planting, immature," said ADASs Andy Wells.

The warm October means grow-ers with ambient stores could not drop temperatures enough to prev-ent blight and soft rots gaining hold.

Drying has been relatively easy, but cooling has been difficult so infections have multiplied faster than normal to outpace moisture removal.

"If there is no sign of trouble growers should not assume the crop will be free from danger later. It is vital to spot any breakdown early, and identify the cause. Once bacterial rots get going they are very difficult to stop. With tuber blight or pink rot there is more chance to save the crop."