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Your Summer Toolbox

15 May 2018

How AHDB can help you to react in a fast moving season

“Things are really steaming ahead in many in parts of the country, and growers will be working fast to adapt to the various challenges of the season” said AHDB Potatoes Knowledge Exchange Manager, Claire Hodge – here are the resources available from AHDB to help you react to what’s coming down the line.

Your summer tool box:

Herbicide regimes

Graham Bannister, Knowledge Exchange Manager for the North East and East Midlands said: “In a late planting season it can feel like things are on fast forward. If we get warm weather, then we’ll see rapid canopy growth and growers will be looking at their herbicide timings and mixes.

“We’re pleased to be able to put on on-farm events are focussed specifically on herbicides - the first of which is on 31 May -  growers and agronomists can discuss approaches and see the effects of various trials on a commercial canopy.”

Graham Tomalin, Senior Agronomist at VCS, has been running a herbicides trial programme at Elveden over the past two seasons. You can see results from his previous work here. Graham will demonstrate the various approaches trialled in 2018, and lead discussion on how best to tackle this year’s challenges.

Water Management​

Those finished planting will soon be thinking of their first irrigation timing. In 2018, we released a new water management guide.

The updated Seasonal Water Management Guide for Potatoes summarises the latest research findings and based on AHDB-funded research projects and work conducted at Strategic Potato Farms by Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF.

The guide is available on our website now, and includes our latest advice on common scab control, after work completed at SPot Farm East allowed us to enhance information provided on varietal resistance to the disease.

The timing of first irrigation is key, and this publication will help you target your irrigation based on susceptibility of different varieties and soil type.

As well as improving common scab control this publication aims to help growers to efficiently manage water in order to:

  • Improve marketable yield
  • Maximise quality and reduce defects
  • Increase water use efficiency
  • Reduce nutrient (particularly nitrogen), soil and water loss

Dr Mark Stalham of NIAB CUF said:  “In the UK, well-timed and evenly distributed water applied at three to seven-day intervals is as beneficial to the crop as daily irrigation, and offers potential water savings and reduced drainage losses”

Aphid Management

Anne Stone, Knowledge Exchange Manager for West, said: “We don’t know yet how this season will playout – at the time of writing there are still a large number of growers in the West with lots of planting still to complete.

"However, if the recent warm weather continues, there could be large numbers of cereals aphids flying at a time when potato canopies are ‘catching-up’. Our aphid news service can help growers monitor the situation.”

Aphids have the potential to cause major economic problems in most UK crops through removal of sap, transmission of viruses and direct feeding crop damage.

AHDB Aphid News provides regional information on aphid numbers at key times of the year. The information can be used to help time treatments better, reduce harm to beneficial insects and lower the risk of selection for insecticide resistance by reducing unnecessary or poorly timed sprays.

Regional information on aphid species and numbers across the UK is gathered through the Rothamsted/SASA suction-trap network and the FERA yellow water-pan trap network.

Sign-up to receive aphid news in your in-box each Friday.

Fight Against Blight

Claire Hodge, Knowledge Exchange Manager for Scotland said: “As nature catches-up on a slow start – we need to keep up. If we get warm weather, canopies will be growing rapidly, and growers will have to stay on their toes to ensure blight programmes are fit for purpose.

“On top of this, there are new aggressive strains of blight emerging. We’ve reported over the winter about the spread of EU_37 – you can get the latest advice here

There are two main strands to our blight service. The newly updated Fight Against Blight (FAB) website provides regional alerts based on the level of inoculum in your area. It also shows a mapping service of reported strains of blight as they are confirmed across the UK.

We also provide regular alerts throughout the year as the blight landscape changes. In the last 12 months, we have tracked the spread and characteristics of the EU_37 strain, through the Euro Blight and FAB networks. This coupled with reports from British and European researchers on the strain’s insensitivity to fluaziam has helped to keep growers and agronomists informed.

None of this works without our dedicated network of blight scouts. Growers and agronomists across the country send us samples on a voluntary basis, their efforts serve to protect the whole industry. Please consider joining them, by signing up here.

Storage advice

“The important thing for people to remember, is that we are here to help if stock is held longer than expected due to 2018 crop arriving ‘late’” said Laura Bouvet Knowledge Exchange Manager for potato storage at Sutton Bridge CSR.

“We circulate seasonal advice via our Storage Bulletin newsletter, but if a pressing concern develops in store, we are standing by via our advice line.”

You can sign-up to storage bulletin here, call the Storage Advice Line free on 0800 02 82 111 or email

Contact us

You can meet our Knowledge Exchange Team, at on-farm events across the country this season. If you have a question about any of our services, please contact us.

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