Potato planting is well underway for ware crops and seed growers are just starting up north. Conditions are pretty good, with around 10mm of rain in places this week softening up some of the more bodied soils that ploughed up a bit lumpy after last autumn’s excess rain.
Soil temperatures have been an average 8C for April, but up as high as 12C on the best days, so planted crops should get off to a good start if things stay the same or improve.
Around 40ha of early Maris Peer crops have gone in under a net cover as a trial to see how much earlier they can reach the market. A good residual herbicide mix of Artist (metribuzin + flufenacet) + linuron and Remix was used to combat annual meadowgrass.
Many seed growers are still despatching the last of their stocks south for planting and are caught in the dilemma of needing to empty the store and get on with groundwork at the same time. The late ordering of seed this year hasn’t helped, but growers are keen to see as many tonnes as possible despatched so the stores are winning the battle.
I’m getting a few calls to check buffer zones on products and it’s becoming more of an issue with GAEC requirements and changes to product labels. The main one to remember for this season is the 7m aquatic buffer zone needed with fluazinam products – it’s difficult to change things once a field is planted.
Finally, I have a small wager on with a friend down in Norfolk regarding the final planted area of potatoes this year – he’s taken pity on me after years of clearing me out on the back of England beating Scotland at rugby. All I’ll say at this stage is he’s less optimistic than I am that growers will heed the message not to overplant.