Spud Special: Blight control top priority

Once again it seems to be the weather that is steeling the headlines. There has been no significant rainfall and the often strong winds are making spraying difficult.

Most residual herbicides have been applied and I must say that I am generally pleased with the result, it’s just a case now of assessing where further control is needed with Titus (rimsulfuron). It’s worth remembering that it does do a fairly good job on grassweeds as well as tidying up oilseed rape and cleavers.

My attention will now start to focus on blight control, both early and late along with aphid control in seed crops. Don’t forget to check all potato dumps and destroy any growth present. Covering with black plastic is as good a control method as any as it not only stops growth but also encourages tubers to break down and rot.

Stock feeding waste potatoes is also an option, but just beware that if you use manure from livestock fed on potatoes, pathogens such as powdery scab can be spread from the manure to your land.

Clients in Cheshire have started harvest and Maris Bard yields are about average. Quality is good with enough moisture to see them through the scab control period, however if the weather keeps dry I am starting to get worried about second earlies and maincrop.

Lack of moisture at tuber initiation will lead to reduced tuber number and a higher incidence of common scab, therefore yields will be down and quality reduced. This, of course goes for a lot of un-irrigated crops in the east as well.

Now that most of my clients stores are empty I will be discussing with them store hygiene, reviewing what went well, what didn’t, looking at how box stores were laid out and considering if air flow could be improved. Looking at weight loss might give a good indication of excessive ventilation, coupled with surface skin disease such as silver scurf. Therefore, make sure stores and handling equipment are thoroughly cleaned.

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