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Changes in foliar late blight resistance ratings

31 July 2011

Recent research has led to adjustments in foliar late blight resistance ratings. Some varieties such as Cara, historically rated as seven, have been amended to five.

These changes, revealed to a packed audience at the Winter Forum at Sutton Bridge Crop Storage Research, Lincolnshire on February 22, are now live on the British Potato Variety Database.

“The resistance scores of varieties rated five or more to foliar late blight have been re-evaluated,” explained AHDB Potatoes head of R&D Dr Mike Storey, who chaired the forum. “Producers who have been growing resistant varieties should check the Variety Database as there are some significant modifications.”

The work, supported by AHDB Potatoes, was undertaken by SASA, SAC, SCRI and the Savari Research Trust in response to the recent domination of the virulent and aggressive genotype 13_A2.

Cost control is uppermost in the minds of growers who are seeing many of the costs of production escalate in the current economic climate and this subject was addressed by Nick Blake from Andersons and Neil Cameron from Bidwells.

A surprised audience learned from Bidwell consultant Neil Cameron that the average potato production costs in 2010 were nearly four per cent lower than in 2009.

However, this fall, resulting from lower fertiliser prices last year, masked other rising costs, he said.

“Understanding each element of cost is vital to being able to make a decent return from the crop,” he emphasised. “Growers should ensure they are optimising each stage of production – including choice of variety where possible, crop inputs, harvesting and storage.”

Mr Cameron highlighted that the most effective way of reducing costs of production is by increasing the sold yield per hectare.  He urged the supply chain to work together to maximise yield and quality, ensuring the highest possible proportion of the crop is marketed.

Other topics discussed showed ways of achieving potential savings including variety resistance, mitigation of phosphates and sedimentation, and the effective measurement of organic manures.

Dr Ruairidh Bain of SAC explained how using blight-resistant varieties could reduce fungicide inputs in the future.

Dr Bain revealed that research to date has shown integrated control – using varieties more resistant to blight combined with less fungicide – is frequently more effective than substantially higher fungicide inputs applied to more susceptible varieties.

Other potential savings could come from the effective measurement of organic manures, according to Dr Ken Smith of ADAS.

 “Accurate, quick and potentially cheaper nutrient analysis of organic manures could soon help potato growers shave thousands of pounds off their annual fertiliser bills and help protect the environment. Although up to half the national crop receives organic manure of some type each year, relatively little is used effectively, or accounted for in nutrient management.” He said.

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