Spud Special: Blight control begins

The weather has been relatively kind to the potato crop since the last time of writing, which has allowed later plantings to go into good soil conditions.

Weed problems looked as if they were going to be difficult with the dry ridges, although recent showers combined with robust residual herbicide programmes have resulted in good control, particularly where more than one residual herbicide has been used.

Many crops are now emerging. In fact crops from under fleece were up to 30-35mm in size and scab free. Root growth has been encouraging and to date there has not been too much impediment, although the next spell of weather will determine how well these develop.

The weather has now turned milder which will help with fertiliser uptake particularly P for tuber development. Some early planted seed crops may still see foliar P being applied although the benefit from this is very variable.

We are now considering blight control and programmes on the earlier planted crops. Giving prescriptive programmes is fraught with danger given the rapid activity of the new blight strains at lower temperatures.

Starting the programme early is always crucial although product choice at this stage is wide and will be dependant on recent blight periods in the vicinity, combined with stage of growth.

The new A2-13 blight strain, believed to be operating at cooler temperatures is an area where care and attention to detail within the blight product choice is very important.

One area where we are always concerned is the level of blight and growth on dumps and please be aware and look to monitor active dumps in your area. 

Aphid numbers to date in Scotland are generally low. While the product choice is now greater than previous years the rules and changing aphid populations are ensuring that correct product linked to stage of growth is very important to reduce resistance problems. 

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