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01 May 2020

Have the winter floods affected this year's potato crops?

Have the winter floods affected this year's potato crops?

By Hockley

Autumn 2019 saw record breaking rainfall for some parts of the UK and many growers were unable to harvest all of their crop, with up to10% reported to be left in the ground.

So it was hoped that the New Year would bring better weather and improved soil conditions to give a boost to the potato growers. However, those hopes were soon dashed as rain and flooding continued in 2020 in the form of three named storms: Ciara, Dennis and Jorge. In fact, the Met Office declared it a record breaker and the wettestFebruary to date.

For all growers this is disastrous as so many nutrients will have left the soil, but for potato farmers it presents particular challenges. Earlies, due to be put in the ground in February, will have been impossible to plant as the wet ground was too difficult for the farming machinery to navigate. The margins involved in potato growing make it crucial to ensure a good yield.

These setbacks mean that even though the dry weather has now arrived, every effort needs to be made to maximise yields and ensure the best harvest possible for 2020. Although the ground is still wet in places and many are behind, the dry days ensure good conditions for working.

To catch up, and ensure maximum protection of this years crop, the use of fungicides is crucial with many repeat applications needed. Farmers will not want to lose the crops they were able to get in the ground.Fungicidessuch as Propamocarb prevent and protects against blight, Cymoxanil provides a curative action, Mancozeb offers blight protection in granular form and Azoxystrobin is a broad-spectrum fungicide for protection against other diseases.

In spite of these challenging conditions, the recent dry spell combined with the right protection can rescue the years yields.

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