Changing weather conditions increases risk of potato blight

UK farmers are facing challenging conditions in which to control late blight after Hutton Criteria disease warnings were declared in key potato-growing areas. A large percentage of the British crop is at the critical rapid canopy growth stage and in need of robust protection but heavy rain and waterlogged soils in some areas means it may not be possible to apply protective sprays in a timely fashion.

Temperature and humidity in the past week have sparked red warnings – indicating the highest level of blight threat - in many counties including East Anglia, the south and west of England and as far north as East Yorkshire.

Corteva Agriscience advises that current conditions will lead to product choice and application timing taking on even more importance.

The crop protection and seed company’s field technical manager Craig Chisholm says growers should consider the length of protection they need and whether their chosen blight spray has any curative properties.

Chisholm said: “The potential for a high blight pressure year was already present due to the increase in volunteer potatoes across the rotation, coupled with the mild winter. Dry conditions and recent cooler temperatures kept a lid on it. But the deluge of rain we’ve witnessed and rising temperatures triggered warnings across many key potato areas. Growers will be particularly concerned about this as many crops are at rapid canopy stage and need protection of vulnerable new growth.”


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