Spud special: Lack of rainfall means irrigation for scab control

Crops have endured the coldest spring for a long time up in the north of Scotland and have now enjoyed a bit of respite with a warm week. The cold soils have raised the risk of soil borne rhizoctonia and there are some patches appearing in fields on the lighter Morayshire soils already – there’s nothing that can be done now and even good seed and soil treatments at planting, using tuber and in furrow treatments have been stretched.

It’s not quite been “taps aff” in the local vernacular, but for the earliest crops the lack of rainfall has meant the taps are “on” with regards to irrigation for scab control – the cool weather has at least limited moisture loss as the growth has been slow and ground cover is well behind last year.

Weed control overall has been pretty good, but the dry conditions may challenge the residual part of programmes in the coming weeks. Early planted crops were taking over six weeks to emerge, but the later crops are coming much quicker, so sprayer operators were delighted to see wind speeds drop and allow them to get on with the job.

Now attention is turning to blight and aphid spray programmes. So far the weather has been helping to keep pressure low, but things can change quickly, especially with regards to aphid populations. Another warm week may see the aphid counts begin to rise and insecticides will be needed on seed crops, especially the higher grades to protect them through the vulnerable early growth stages. We’ve only picked up some half Smith periods on weather stations on the Black Isle, but growers are pretty vigilant after last year and blight spraying is now getting underway.


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