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Talking roots with Darryl Shailes: Modern Pallida resistant varieties are doing a great job for controlling PCN populations

I was in Scotland last week, trying to catch the fish of 10,000 casts or so Ian the gillie told me after I blanked.

It was great to be in the Tay valley and we did at least see some salmon jump clear of the water. It was interesting seeing the trees felled by beavers and the huge holes they are creating along the banks of the river.

 

Apparently, a couple of pet beavers escaped from someone’s garden a few years ago and now beavers can be found right along the River Tay, even in the headwaters above Loch Tay itself.

 

Holiday over, it was nice to get back to the Waveney valley and to see that grass had grown at last. It’s amazing how long it took to green up with the recent rains after the hot and dry weather we have had this autumn.

 

The potato harvest is well under way and most other crops are in the process of having the haulm managed in one way or another.

 

The long hot summer had some beneficial effect in that most crops were pretty well senesced before this process started and we have had some excellent results using sequences of pyraflufen-ethyl and carfentrazone-ethyl with or without a flail on many crops.

 

Sprouting

 

I think the use of maleic hydrazide for sprout control will also have helped in many instances - something to be borne in mind for the future.

 

The approval for chlorpropham as a sprout suppressant in store finishes on October 8 - the end of another era and we must follow the AHDB advice and not be tempted to apply to early loaded stores. ‘If you fog them, you can’t flog them’ is their rallying call and it would be very foolish to try.

 

The good news is that the cleaning procedures of historically treated stores endorsed by the AHDB from the work done at Sutton Bridge appear to be working, and tuber residues in trials have been within the proposed tMRL.

 

PCN

 

The first of the recent soil tests for potato cyst nematode (PCN) are coming through and it’s good to see what a great job the modern Pallida resistant varieties are doing to PCN populations.

 

Integrated crop protection at its best and getting these around the farm to manage PCN must be a priority for many growers.

 

Beet cyst nematode (BCN) has also been showing but in a less positive light. BCN also infects many other brassica species, including kale, mustard and stubble turnips and can have a severe effect on oilseed rape yields.

 

The life cycle is often quoted at 10 weeks with more than one hatch a year, although work done at Harper Adams suggest this can get down to 21 days at 20degC.

 

Looking at some kale recently I could see the cysts of BCN quite easily which explained why one field wasn’t growing as well as another.

 

They had been in the ground for around eight weeks so plenty of time to complete a life cycle. As the grower said, something else to think about and the same could be happening in crops of stubble turnips and some cover crops depending on the species mix, certainly something else to consider.

 

Disease

 

Cercospora is appearing very rapidly in many beet crops with the hot and wet weather we’ve had recently and with the limited control offered by the fungicide options we have available could be the final limiter to yield of some crops on top of everything else such as poor canopies, fat hen and virus.

 

On a brighter note the barley cover crop effect on virus levels in beet seems to be gaining some traction and some relatively recent work cited in scientific literature discusses the mechanism, so something to investigate further next season.

 

On a more personal note my mother recently passed away from dementia and to try and raise some money for the Alzheimer’s Society I’ll be doing the Memory Walk on Sunday. So, if you see a bedraggled, tired looking agronomist in the middle of his 26-mile marathon walk, or anyone else doing the same please give generously.


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