Farmer Focus Arable: Seth Pascoe delighted with his potatoes

I have returned the tow rope to its rightful home in the workshop and steam cleaned the layer of mud off the sprayer.

The responsibility of potato fungicide applications has been handed over to the local aerial applicator pilots, who will fly over the crops and spray when necessary.

Considering the abundant moisture this season, I am pleasantly surprised to see the absence of disease in the spuds. The fungicides must be working well. Weather trends for the past month has been mostly warm and sunny, with a high relative humidity and frequent thunderstorms. These conditions are particularly conducive to early blight (alternaria solani), our primary disease concern here in Alberta.

The potatoes are very variable across the farm. I recently dug up a rather pale and weak looking plant adjacent to a drowned out area. The tuber set was surprisingly phenomenal and a good, consistent size too. Many other similar looking plants were the same. If these plants can sustain growth through to harvest then perhaps my yield expectations won’t be as bad as I had first thought. Generally, the Russet Burbank crop has much less foliage than I would usually expect, but when I consider the season and the late planting, then tuber size and quantity is acceptable.

For the past few weeks our irrigation pivots have been going around regularly, albeit at their fastest speed, as we have been busily occupied with fertigation. Potatoes have received liquid nitrogen on a 10-day interval to stimulate growth and replace previously leached nutrient. All crops have had a dose of nitrogen in an attempt to motivate some rather lacklustre looking crops – particularly the oilseed rape and maize.

With the UK harvest in full swing, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers a bountiful harvest.

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