Wide consequences for potato growers facing Vydate shortage, say agronomists

Potato agronomy experts have offered a range advice to potato growers in light of the anticipated short supply of nematicides, and in particular Vydate, next year.

A nematode of genus Pratylenchus - image: USDA
A nematode of genus Pratylenchus - image: USDA

Scottish Agronomy senior agronomist Eric Anderson said: "Soil sampling for free-living nematodes (FLN) needs to be carried at the right time and in the right way. Nematode numbers can change over small distances, up and down the soil profile and with the weather."

He added: "It's not only important to know the nematode species present but also to test for presence of TRV [tobacco rattle virus], so I'll also be encouraging my clients to spend the extra to get the best information available."

Spud Agronomy director John Sarup said: "Vydate has been the product of choice for FLN control for a long time and it's simply not possible to swap it for something else, as there are implications for the way it's applied and importantly the harvest intervals."

He warned: "There are implications to level of control you can expect, let alone the extra costs. I'll be getting my growers to look hard at each field and variety and asking what we can do to reduce the risk in each and every case."

Turner Agriculture owner David Turner urged: "Plan ahead, as changing to a different product may require alterations to the machinery - different products may need different rotors to apply accurately and of course it may take more time to accurately calibrate the machines."

Blackthorn Arable director Martyn Cox says: "Risk assessment is key but in order to do this you need to understand the complex interactions. Different Nematode species, soil types and varieties and knowing detailed field history, is a key part of my risk assessment."

Greenvale AP group technical manager James Lee warned: "We have very few weapons left in our armoury and one less in 2016 with the temporary loss of Vydate. Unless we can be seen to be using our nematicides judiciously and responsibly we risk losing them all."

He urged anyone involved in applying nematicides to attend a Nematicides Stewardship course provided by ARTIS in partnership with the industry-backed Nematicide Stewardship Programme.

Vydate is currently in short supply due to an accident at manufacturer DuPont's factory in Texas a year ago.

AHDB Potatoes has this month published a free-to-download guide to FLNs and how to manage them (pdf).

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