Spud Special: Crops will suffer if heatwave continues for too long

Like the rest of the country, it has been a bit tropical in the North of late. We had about 20mm of rain on 20 June and since then, the temperatures have climbed to peak at about 27C to date.

Potato crops are coping reasonably well at the moment, but they will not stand these conditions for too long.

The dry weather has taken the edge of the residual herbicides effectiveness. Various remedies have been tried, including deploying some of the inter-row cultivators used in the organic crops into seed fields.

See also: What the neonic seed treatment ban means for sugar beet

Most of the crops will outcompete the weeds, but we may need to tidy up things when it comes to desiccation time in a month or so.

Blight programmes are continuing – the pressure has been relatively low, so growers are flexing their spray plans a little by stretching intervals slightly or varying product choice.

Surprisingly, the warm weather hasn’t brought an influx of aphids to date – maybe the beneficial insects are having a feast, or the colder winter has had a significant effect on the populations.

Irrigators are being used where they can get enough water, but river levels are getting seriously low now, to the extent that we have received notices from Scottish Water to conserve domestic supplies, which is a bit unusual for us.

Seed inspections start this week and the roguers are having to cope with the heat – hats, sunscreen and dark glasses are the order of the day.

Hopefully, blackleg will be a minor issue this season as a result of the dry weather.