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Are you buying Safe Haven Seed?

2 August 2011

Safe Haven seed offers ware growers a wide range of potato varieties in addition to protection from diseases such as ring rot and Dickeya, says AHDB Potatoes head of seed and export, Mark Prentice.

The complete UK potato seed, ware and purchasing / processing industry has been alerted to the importance of protection with recent findings of Dickeya blackleg being detected in ware potatoes which appear to have been grown from seed that didn’t originate from UK nuclear stock, says AHDB Potatoes head of seed and export Mark Prentice.

 “It is crucial that ware growers take seed quality very seriously into account when choosing next year’s seed,” urges Mark. “Growing potatoes is enough of a challenge without introducing new problems. Dickeya is an example of these new problems which will primarily be introduced on seed. Allowing organisms like these to take hold will only add to the burden for both the seed and ware sectors here in Britain.

“A simple tool already exists for growers to ensure provenance. This is sourcing seed only from seed growers who are in the Safe Haven scheme, and ware growers can benefit from the tremendous advantages it offers. “By asking for seed from this scheme, growers have protection against diseases like ring rot or Dickeya.” says Mark.

Seed growers are only eligible to join the Safe Haven scheme if they source seed from within the scheme, which is traceable back to approved nuclear stock, and can demonstrate strict bio-security and hygiene standards. Seed origin, hygiene, machinery, transport and storage are all reviewed prior to certification being awarded.

Set up five years ago to protect against ring rot, these procedures also help protect against any new threat where introduction is most likely by seed, including bacterial diseases such as Dickeya solani  which has been very much in the news in 2010 (see Dickeya article by clicking here). 

“With new challenges facing our industry all the time, it is vital that high health standards are maintained,” says Mark. “I strongly urge growers not to delay and find themselves left with a limited choice, but speak to their seed supplier to ensure they can source Safe Haven seed.”

At present, the GB seed potato industry is worth c£60m at farm gate level and the value of seed exports is estimated at c£20m. About 60 per cent of British seed potatoes have been accepted into the Safe Haven scheme”

Further information for ware growers who want to source Safe Haven seed is available at www.potato.org.uk/safe-haven. There is a link to a database containing all the Safe Haven members. Those wanting to purchase Safe Haven seed need only ask their usual supplier.

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