Spud Special: Seed supply slows planting

March really did go out like a lion with some very strong winds. But there is still a distinct lack of rainfall, particularly across the eastern side of the country, and I have only recorded 3mm for the whole month.

On a visit to Lancashire last week, when the wind was at its peak, I saw soil being blown around in great dust clouds, no doubt a huge worry for growers of vulnerable vegetable crops.

However, soil conditions have been ideal for potato planting, which has continued in all areas. Indeed, some of my clients are close to finishing. The early spring has come with some issues particularly regarding seed supply, with some growers still waiting for deliveries.

I often have discussions with my clients about getting seed in early (pre-Christmas) and managing it so that they can get the best out of it, but the problem always comes back to having suitable storage, especially CIPC free storage.

Certainly, those growers who have invested in purpose-built seed storage will be reaping the benefits this year, not only by paying pre-Christmas prices for their seed but also by having the seed on farm when soil conditions are most favourable.

My thoughts will soon be turning to herbicide choice and application, often a really challenging time, particularly if emergence is slow and protracted. I see a huge variation in weed control, even when using the same products, and I am convinced that application technique has a considerable part to play. Consideration should be made for water rates, spray quality, droplet size and forward and backward facing nozzles.

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