Growers urged to be vigilant for potato blight and keep spray intervals tight

Potato growers are being urged to keep blight spray intervals tight and to stay alert for signs of the disease in the crop.

Potato Council's combined Fight Against Blight (FAB) and Blightwatch service,, has recorded more than 30 confirmed blight outbreaks in the country this season, while many Smith periods - times during the growing season when humidity and temperature would favour blight spores to proliferate - have been triggered. Potato Council's Rob Clayton said: "That is about average for this time of year, although conditions have not been too favourable for blight to develop.

"Keep a tight rein on control - remember we are dealing with a more aggressive type of blight."

He added that good field and weather conditions mean growers should be able to keep intervals between applications to about seven days.

He urged growers to sign up to the site to get alerts by text and email of any local outbreaks and ensure they know when Smith periods are triggered.

Clayton said growers should also ensure a good mix of active ingredients in their fungicide programme, particularly being mindful of a more cautionary approach to phenylamide use being recommended by manufacturers.

Potato Council's FAB campaign raises awareness of blight and highlights best practice. A central part of the campaign has been the work of 350 blight scouts - volunteers who have identified potential sources of infection and sent samples in for analysis, which are mapped on the Potato Council website.

In 2006, the Potato Council became the main sponsor of the Blightwatch service, previously funded by commercial sponsors. This service uses regionalised weather data to alert growers to Smith periods.

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