Thursday, July 19, 2018

Growers need patience as planting gets underway

April 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Crops

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

The recent cold spell coupled with wet soils has delayed ploughing in some areas, explains Agrovista agronomist Andy Steven. March was particularly wet in many regions following widespread snow and a cold start to the month.

“There’s still a lot of ground preparation to be done before planting starts in April, meaning a later start to planting is more likely, and any excess rainfall could also cause greater pressure on the crop,” says Mr Steven.

Soil preparation

“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.”

If ploughing is delayed it is vital that seed deliveries arriving on farm are kept in good condition until the soil warms up,” says Mr Steven.

“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 explains.

Morley Benson, field sales manager at crop protection company Certis, says protecting the crop against disease 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 says.

What growers invest and put in at the beginning of the season can help maintain crop quality all the way to harvest and storage, says Mr Benson. “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.”

Irrigation prospects

Despite the wet spring, prospects for irrigation are described as only moderate for most eastern and southern regions this spring and summer, according to initial estimates published by the Environment Agency.

“Moderate” assessment means some surface water abstraction controls are possible if the summer is hot and dry, with groundwater abstraction controls possible in some sensitive areas. The forecast is based on rainfall scenarios and current water levels in rivers and groundwater.

The agency says irrigation prospects are “good” for the Yorkshire, West Midlands and Thames regions. The prospects will be updated later in spring using up-to-date rainfall measurements and likely scenario projections.

Growers are reminded that Countryside Productivity Scheme can be used for grants to improve farm productivity through more efficient use of water for irrigation – and to secure water supplies for crop irrigation by the construction of on-farm reservoirs.

The scheme deadline has been extended until 29 June 2018.

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