"Perfect storm" of conditions points to high potato blight risk

Syngenta field technical manager Simon Laidler has warned that a number of factors together raise the risk of blight outbreaks in currently emerging potatoes.

image:Syngenta
image:Syngenta

Blight attacks are already believed to have hit unsprayed crops grown under plastic in the south-west and south Wales, while large numbers of volunteer potatoes have survived the mild winter, serving as a potential focus of infection, he said.

Meanwhile wet soils could allow blight spores to propel themselves through the soil and infect plants, and warmer, wet weather is now forecast, exacerbating the risks.

"This season everything appears set to hit at once and has significantly increased the risk of blight," Laidler said.

Syngenta's online BlightCast service has already identified Smith Periods in the south west, and further high risk trigger points for much of the UK this week (13-15 May), he added.

The service provides a localised five-day forecast of blight risks to help with appropriate product choice and spray interval timing, along with a spray window forecast to help tailor application scheduling and ensure crops remain protected.

To deal with the immediate threat, "An application of Shirlan at the earliest opportunity will protect emerged growth from aerial spore infection, but targeting the soil surface also helps to counter zoospores before they have chance to move and infect plants," Laidler advised.


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