Copper does trick for Lancs blight…

26 September 1997

Copper does trick for Lancs blight…

BLIGHT control using copper is the unconventional strategy adopted by two west Lancashire potato growers.

Excessively dry conditions meant John Pilkington of Ambrose Farm, Halsall, near Ormskirk couldnt use Reglone (diquat) on 2ha (4.9 acres) of severe blight in Saxon. Rather than wait for an acid spraying contractor he asked consultant and Stoller agent Bill Scarisbrick of Scarisbrick Agricultural Services for alternatives.

The suggestion he came back with was 10 litres/ha of Stollers Key Feeds copper chelate. Two days after treatment blight had been eradicated and the tops were wilting. Cost was just £25/ha (£10/acre), about 60% less than using contractor-sprayed acid.

A similar problem arose with 8ha (20 acres) of Maris Piper and Navan at the Wright Brothers Hill Farm, Little Crosby, near Liverpool.

Within four days 10 litres/ha of copper had completely eradicated the blight and the tops were beginning to senesce.

Key Feeds chelated copper is less corrosive than other copper products and seems to eradicate blight, says Mr Scarisbrick. "At the moment we dont know how long it will take to completely desiccate the tops – or, indeed, if it will do so completely. But as an expedient and comparatively inexpensive way of controlling blight, it appears to be extremely effective."

John Pilkington (left) and John Scarisbrick examine Saxon potatoes treated with copper as an alternative to a desiccant. Within two days blight had been eradicated and the tops were wilting, says Mr Scarisbrick.

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