Spud Watch: Growers get ready for planting

The current wintry weather might do some good by helping to dry land out and hopefully kill off some of the nasty bugs, particularly aphids.

Mild winters over the past two years have not helped seed growers in England, who have seen large numbers of aphids in yellow water traps. Dealing with them is expensive and not always successful.

We know there is pyrethroid resistance in peach potato and grain aphids, but I believe resistance has now also been found in carrot willow aphids, usually the first to be found in water traps.

See also: Why potato blight strategy will need to change in 2018

The worry is that if we keep losing products or no new products are registered, the reliance on existing chemistry is increased, which in the long term could encourage more resistance.

John Sarup

John Sarup, Spud Agronomy

I only know of a very small area of first earlies that have been planted in Cheshire. I hope they are covered in fleece to keep the worst of the cold off. Most growers are preparing land and machinery so when the weather does improve, they are ready to press the button.

Seed is slowly arriving on farm. What I have seen so far is good quality. It is always worth checking for black scurf so a decision can be made on the use of a rhizoctonia seed treatment.

Crops in store are very variable in terms of quality. The quality of the store often also has an effect, particularly where ventilation is concerned.

Rots are common in processing stores, where temperatures are warmer, and further applications of sprout suppressant chlorpropham might exacerbate the problem.