Spud Special: Attention turns to next year’s potato crop

Finally temperatures are beginning to fall and the first frost of the winter is expected this week, with even some snow on the hills.

On the land attention is now focused on next year’s potato crop. There are small areas of ware still to lift, but almost all growers are finished harvest.

Sampling fields destined for potato crops next year is the main job just now. It’s a good opportunity to walk stubbles and see what the potential weed problems may be, as well as assessing the other risks such as water logging. There is still time to deal with couch and other grassweeds that may be a headache in six months time. An application of glyphosate now before winter closes in can make life a lot easier in the spring.

All fields are sampled to determine pH and nutrient status and some are getting further samples taken to assess the risk of Powdery scab and Spraing. Scottish Government’s Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) inspectors are also out sampling all the seed land for potato cyst nematode (PCN).

Stores will benefit from the cold weather and ambient temperatures are getting down below 10C for the first time. Cold stores, if not already on, will be switched on shortly and it will be important to keep an eye on the varieties that break dormancy early for sprouting after above average temperatures in the growing season and the first 6-8 weeks of storage.

Seed grading for export to Egypt and other destinations is in full swing and growers are keen to get stocks dispatched before the Christmas shutdown. Quality overall is good, but there are a few challenging stocks with common and some powdery scab. This makes the annual cultural exchange with visiting Egyptian inspectors a tense affair at times. The other issue raising the temperature is the competition between the seed exporters and whisky exporters for transport. This is making logistics even more challenging, especially the further north you are – and there’s a lot of whisky produced in our neck of the woods.

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