Potato growers to benefit from new SDHI fungicide seed treatment

BASF’s new liquid tuber treatment has gained approval for use on all potato crops, offering good control of a range of costly potato skin blemish diseases.

There are a number of skin blemish diseases affecting potato crops which are caused by different pathogens, the key ones being rhizoctonia, silver scurf and black dot.

Even at low levels of infection, rhizoctonia can have a significant effect on yield, with reports of direct losses by weight of up to 30%, says BASF campaign manager for speciality crops Luke Pollard. 

See also: How optimistic potato grower targets soil improvements

But it’s not just lower yields, rhizoctonia also affects the marketability of the crop.

He also points out that silver scurf and black dot are together estimated by Fera Science to cause annual losses of about £5m.

The good news for potato growers is that the chemical regulations division of the Health and Safety Executive has approved the seed treatment Honesty, which contains the SDHI fungicide fluxapyroxad.

The active is already familiar to wheat growers, being a key fungicide for tackling septoria.

He believes the fungicide has the potential to be a real game changer for the potato industry as it delivers the best reduction of rhizoctonia, silver scurf and black dot, and has incidental activity against dry rot, gangrene and more.

“Not only does Honesty give comprehensive disease control, it also brings additional physiological benefits to the crop giving more even stolon initiation which results in even, good looking potatoes and so more marketable grade out,” says Luke.

Ease of application

Paul Goddard, the company’s business development manager for speciality crops says the product is applied using a roller table at a rate of 0.2 litres/t, with 0.05 litres/t of application enhancer, available as an Honesty Potato Pack.

It gives excellent coverage, and the integral blue colouring solution ensures those applying the product and growers can readily see the fungicide coverage.

“An application also assists in the drying of tubers,” he says.

Independent agronomist Paul Overton likes the flexibility on the product label being approved for all potatoes.

“I am able to treat seed for seed, for ware and for processing and that, together with the fact that tuber application is not tied to planting date, makes it very adaptable.”

“Working with BASF, we have trialled Honesty widely over the past three seasons in varied climatic conditions and soil types.

“We have also used different varieties in the trials; 30 of the top varieties which have been multiplied in Scotland over the past two years, and we have applied it both early and late in the season and have found no ill effects on any variety.

“Combined with a soil treatment, the product also gives good stem canker control, which is the other phase of rhizoctonia,” he says.

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