Spud Special: Check fields for pests, weeds and nutrients

Harvest is just about wrapped up in most areas, only the surplus for which there is no storage or no market remains. In a year like this it is crucial that you and your customer have an understanding of the quality in store so that there are no surprises.

Make sure that everything delivered meets contract specification so that there are no opportunities for rejection, which will be costly. Regular store sampling will help with this and should be carried out routinely. With day and night-time temperatures still in double figures I am concerned about ambient stores, particularly those with limited ventilation, particularly regarding bacterial rots. Again these should be monitored closely.

Thoughts have now turned to planning for next year with current weather conditions ideal for looking around fields, soil sampling for nutrition, PCN/FLN, weed mapping and looking at soil structure. Once this has been done variety selection can be made. A number of clients are considering not planting headlands next year for ease of access and to limit quality issues.

If volunteer potatoes are present there should be an ideal opportunity to apply glyphosate before the first frost of the season destroys any foliage present. Worryingly, some of the volunteer potatoes I have seen in fields have been covered in blight that could provide early inoculum next season, especially if we have a mild winter.

The mild weather also means that there is a lot of slug pest activity in stubbles. There seems to be a couple of trains of thought regarding pellet application prior to potato crops. Is it worth treating stubbles in the autumn prior to potatoes or should you just treat in the spring? The most effective application will always be the one just prior to canopy closure, however, in my opinion any opportunity to control slugs, if they are present, should be taken providing it is within current stewardship guidelines.

Removal of green material in the autumn with glyphosate first and a pellet application soon after will provide nothing but bait for them to feed on. For those without stocks, life without methiocarb will start sooner rather than later.

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