Spud Special: Thoughts turn to grading export seed

A settled October has allowed growers to clear seed crops in good time. Ware growers are still harvesting – crops have been slow to skin set, which has added to the delays in lifting after the late growing season. The forecast for the week is reasonably settled on the east coast of Scotland, so hopefully good progress can be made in clearing crops.

Thoughts will be turning to grading for those that have not already started. The biggest seed export market is Egypt and that is where everyone’s attention will be focussed for the next two months. Negotiations are never easy in this market and things are not helped this year with a late change to the top riddle size by the Egyptian government.

On the agronomy front, quality in store is pretty good. Some cooler weather now would help get store temperatures down and allow growers to keep costs down. If temperatures don’t drop then refrigeration will need to be switched on fairly soon to get the most benefit, especially for varieties that break dormancy early.

Plans for next year’s crops are already being put in place. The disruption to supplies of Vydate (oxamyl) means that there will be more focus on testing seed land for free living nematodes and especially for the presence of tobacco rattle virus (TRV). This will allow varietal resistance and field selection to help mitigate some of the risk.

Also, the loss of the Extension of Authorisation for Minor Use (EAMU) for use of fluazinam to reduce powdery scab risks will mean that growers need to delve into field histories more and potentially test land for the presence of powdery scab spores. Some varieties are being grown for markets with a very low tolerance for the disease, so any information on the potential risks of a field will be useful in the planning process.

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