Blight risks for tubers in storage

17 October 1997

Blight risks for tubers in storage

ALTHOUGH blight has remained at fairly low levels in the field, tuber incidence is higher than earlier test digs suggested, says ADAS. The disease has already been spotted in two stores in Yorks. Others may be at risk, though the problem will be easier to spot in potatoes being lifted now.

"Blight came in late to the affected crops, and tubers had not started to rot when they were harvested," says ADAS agronomist Brendan OConnor. Once in store, the warmth caused occasional tubers to weep, prompting an early sale.

In other stores

The problem could occur in other stores over the next couple of weeks, says ADASs Denis Buckley. He advises growers to monitor crops carefully. "Turn off the fans and sniff. Smell is one of the best indicators of trouble."

For growers still lifting the key aim should be to remove surface moisture from stored crops. "You have got to keep ventilating to stop blight spreading to neighbouring tubers."

Hand grading to remove shrunken and diseased tubers before loading should pay dividends especially now that wetter conditions have returned, he suggests.

The disease will be easier to spot, adds Mr OConnor. "Tubers will be starting to rot in the field."

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