Dig before desiccating spuds

CHECKING SOIL moisture before desiccating potatoes is still worthwhile even if the surface looks wet, Syngenta has advised.

After a relatively dry season in many areas, particularly south of The Wash, some tubers could be dehydrated and may be more at risk from bruising, the firm said.

“[Growers] must remember there will be some time lag between uptake by the plant and tubers regaining water content,” explained Syngenta potato manager, Garth Bretherton.

“Foliage will recover from water stress far quicker than the tubers.”

Results from British Potato Council-funded research found that all crops of Maris Piper burnt-off in dry conditions suffered more than 35% bruised tubers when subjected to a standard impact test.

Mr Bretherton recommends the Soil Moisture Assessment for Reglone [diquat] Treatment (SMART) test, which involves digging into the rooting zone and squeezing a ball of soil in your hand.

“If it holds together there is ample soil moisture for the safe use of Reglone, together with reduced risk of bruising. If it is too dry, growers must seriously consider irrigation.”

Further information on the SMART test is included in the new Reglone Aid to Desiccation booklet and the Reglone Decision Master CD-ROM, which have been sent to existing customers.

Growers registered with Syngenta who have not received their copy should call 0800 652 4215.


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