Recent cold weather threatens to delay potato cultivation

The recent cold spell is likely to delay potato grower cultivation
The recent cold spell is likely to delay potato grower cultivation

Patience "will be key" this potato season as the recent cold weather threatens to delay cultivation.

The recent freezing temperatures caused by the 'Beast from the East' coupled with wet soils has delayed ploughing in some areas.

Andy Steven, agronomist at Agrovista, explains that there’s still a lot of ground preparation to be done before planting starts in April.

He said this will mean a later start to planting is more likely, and any excess rainfall could also cause greater pressure on the crop.

“Patience and care are vital to ensure that soil preparation is done at the right time without creating compaction, either on the surface or deeper within the soil profile, which can then have an impact on yield,” Mr Steven said.

He warned that if ploughing is delayed it is vital that seed deliveries arriving on farm are kept in good condition until the soil warms up.

“Be patient or you’ll be increasing the chance of delayed emergence. Look after the seed well before it’s taken to the field by ensuring it’s put in to clean boxes and stored at the appropriate temperature, otherwise humidity and condensation will breed disease,” he explained.

Morley Benson, Field Sales Manager at Certis, added that protecting the crop against disease in-between taking delivery of the seed and planting is critical, in order to protect against soil borne risks.

“A tuber treatment such as Rhino DS can provide all-round protection of seed potatoes and offers defence against black scab and Rhizoctonia,” he said.

He added that what is put in at the beginning of the season can help to maintain crop quality all the way up to harvest and storage.

“It’s important not to cut corners and to do everything possible to protect the quality of the crop, even at this early stage of the year.”