Tips on managing UK potato crops in warm, dry conditions

Hutchinsons root crop technical manager, Darryl Shailes, has stated that even with the best of irrigation systems or the crops grown in the perfect silt and that were planted in great conditions are currently struggling under the unrelenting hot and dry UK weather.

“During the heat wave in July many crops ceased bulking and only put on dry matter, and were just about kept alive. This rapid increase in dry matter means that many crops especially those that are unirrigated or short of water are already in excess of 24% DM and will be highly prone to bruising,” he says. That is why Shailes believes the best decision for many growers will be to stop the crop even though the yield is only in the low teens per acre.

“To leave the haulm alive under the current conditions will only increase dry matter and yield is unlikely to be significantly improved. For some crops even if rain were forecast, their ability to increase yield and tuber size significantly will already be compromised with very poor haulm and will probably cause issues with secondary growth.”

“Where water is available, irrigation pre-harvest even though having no real effect on dry matter, can help to keep more soil on the web and cushion the potatoes to reduce bruising. Single handling and correct settings of harvesters and elevators will be even more important than normal to reduce the exposure to bruising as much as possible.”


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