Spud special: Be patient with cultivations to minimise compaction

Writing this on a typical bank holiday Monday with the rain from storm Katie beating against the window my thoughts are focused on cultivations. Of course potato planting has been going on in some areas for some time now. In the areas that I visit, Cheshire has been going well for the last two weeks, and Yorkshire started just before the Easter weekend.

Soil conditions have been surprisingly good, however in other areas such as the Borders, the North West and some of the heavier land in Yorkshire conditions aren’t, particularly where ploughing took place over winter. These soils are going to need time and patience if compaction is to be avoided, particularly with rotary bed-tillers.

There is loads of evidence out there to suggest that decreasing depth of cultivation where soils are wet actually increases yield. It is worth checking out the work that AHDB Potatoes have done on this, if you haven’t already!

So far seed quality arriving on farm has been very good, just remember though that the bags that seed is delivered in are designed for transport only and if planting is delayed you should ideally decant it into CIPC free  (chlorpropham) boxes and keep in a well ventilated and cool area.

Thoughts will soon be turning to weed control, this will probably be the last season that Linuron will be used certainly here in the north. Although dates have to be confirmed, I understand that final sales from distribution are likely to be at the end of October 2016 with a six month use up period by growers.

Therefore, now might be the time to start to get used to using alternative products, although at the current 600g/ha of active it’s use has been limited to that of a mixer with other products anyway. The alternatives are going to be more expensive so making sure that you know what the weed spectrum is that you are dealing with is important in order to use the right products at the right rates to help keep costs down.

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