Spud Watch: Focus moves to blight and aphid control

At the time of writing, the last seed crops are being planted on the Yorkshire Wolds.

The first planted ware crops are fully emerged, although cool night-time temperatures have held back rapid development.

So far herbicides seem to be working well – no doubt helped by a few welcome showers over the past month.

See also: Are 100t/ha potato crops possible?

With the imminent demise of diquat, a number of clients have been looking at pyraflufen-ethyl (Gozai) and carfentrazone (Shark). Results have been pleasing, although volunteer cereals, re-established meadowgrass and resistant ryegrasses will remain a challenge, particularly if post-emergence herbicide applications are to be avoided.

To date, the rain gauge in my garden has captured 50mm of rain from 1 April. Clients in Cheshire have recorded almost double this during the same period.

Generally, night-time temperatures have been warmer on the western side of the country and, as a result, crop development has been much faster. Fleece has been removed and harvesters have moved in with token lifts for local markets and door trade. So far, quality looks good.

Attention will soon shift to blight spraying and, as seed crops emerge, the control of aphids.

Early pre-emergence yellow water trap results are showing potato and peach potato aphids already, so we will need to be on the ball as crops start to emerge.

The AHDB Fight Against Blight (FAB) campaign continues, although there is a different sampling protocol using FTA cards (which farmers press against the diseased leaf to get a DNA sample). This allows for more rapid in-season feedback on blight genotypes, rather than waiting to the end of the season.

I find this vital so I can make informed decisions about the products I intend to use, with resistance management in mind.

If you are not already registered as a blight scout, please do so on the dedicated website. The more information we get, the more we will be able to understand the changing genotypes and plan control strategies accordingly.