A Hutton Period alert has been issued across much of the UK following prolonged periods of high temperatures and high humidity – indicating a risk of blight development. Abby Kellett reports.
The Blightwatch service, which uses Met Office data to assess the risk of blight development, has reported that many parts of the UK have experienced minimum air temperatures of at least 10 deg C and relative humidity levels of above 90 per cent (for at least six hours) for two consecutive days, meaning the Hutton Period criteria have been met.
Although several Hutton Period disease warnings have been issued throughout the country, delays in planting due to wet weather earlier in the season means that around 10 per cent of the UK crop is yet to be planted.
Craig Chisholm of Corteva Agriscience says: “Despite several Hutton Period disease warnings being issued, a significant potato area is yet to emerge.”
In parts of East Anglia planting machinery has only just been returned to the shed while some growers in Cornwall are applying their second blight treatment of the season.
Independent agronomist, Andy Alexander says: “It’s the most variable season I have seen in my career. Growers need to use all the chemistry in the toolbox in the correct place at the right interval, which could be a challenge this season.”
Mr Chisholm adds: “Crops will grow fast now and it is quite possible that the blight risk will be higher due to soft growth and lack of attention to discard piles in the scramble to get the crop in the ground.
“There is a need to maximise the existing yield potential given the light interception already lost. Growers are going to need every bit of green leaf area they can get and that means they need the cleanest possible start to the blight programme.”