6 November 1998

Spud seeds tough rules

ULTRA-STRINGENT quality criteria is the key feature of a new seed potato brand intended to cut disease spread to ware crops and help growers meet specific production goals.

IQT Plus, launched by Perth-based Pseedco, offers tighter sprouting and damage tolerances.

Pre-inspection washing helps ensure the higher standards. Scottish Office and MAFF seed potato inspections are made on "as lifted" samples, notes Pseedco marketing manager, Stephen Hole. "We believe we are the only company that washes everything before testing." Washing can reveal skin-borne diseases hidden by soil deposits, he says.

The more stringent IQT disease standards permit only 0.5% powdery scab as opposed to 3% under UK Statutory Seed Tolerances. Under the official system up to 97% of tubers may have an area less than one-eighth infected. With IQT the figure is just 5%.

Under UKSTT 3% of tubers can have up to a quarter of their surfaces affected by black scurf (rhizoctonia). Under IQT only 1% may have the disease on less than an eighth of the surface.

Growers supplying supermarkets are particularly wary of planting seed with powdery scab because of the risk of rejections, says Mr Hole. "And rhizoctonia is becoming increasingly important now Gambit has been withdrawn."

IQT inspection, for which there is a £15-£20/t premium, is based on 200 tuber samples taken from each 4ha (10 acres) of seed crop.

lPseedco is wholly owned by QV Foods, Anglian Produce and Branston Potatoes, which claim to supply one-tenth of British consumption. &#42

Pseedcos new IQT seed protocol includes thoroughly washing a seed sample before inspection.