19 February 1998
Mild winter threatens Scots crops with pests and disease

PESTS and diseases normally killed by winter frosts could attack crops in their infancy this year because of record-breaking temperatures, the fungal and bacterial plant pathology department of the Scottish Crop Research Institute warned.

But farmers would be reluctant to wish for a return to colder weather in the next month or two because this would hit budding plants and new-born lambs.

Jim Duncan, the departments head, said much depended on the weather between now and summer but a deep frost would have been better for farmers by now.

The threat of a greenfly plague is hovering and the seed potato crop could be at risk. The east of Scotlands fruit industry is also in danger with the risk that fruit bushes will bud and flower early in the warm weather. A late frost could then cause considerable damage, said another scientist Stuart Gordon.

  • The Scotsman 19/02/98 page 7