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Agronomic strategies

Pigs effectively removed volunteers as a source of blight but the technique is of limited application. Rotational position: following fertility building grass/clover or Lucerne, potatoes were more infected than after spring wheat but yield was unaffected because of improved fertility. Manure type, level or N:K ratio had no effect on disease, but improved nutrient supply and crop growth and yield. This growth-promoting aspect of fertility management should be fully exploited. Planting date (early) and pre-sprouting (chitting) effects on blight were small and insignificant but by advancing tuber bulking, acceptable yields were usually achieved before the crop was killed-off. Within commercial limits, plant density and configuration had no effect on blight but large effects on total and graded yields. Optimised, scheduled irrigation used about half the water of traditional regime yet maintained yield without increased risk of late blight. Pre-harvest defoliation by flailing and/or burning to avoid tuber blight decreased blight sporangia per plant but had no effect on tuber blight or the safe interval between defoliation and harvest but it was not possible to conclude which method would be most effective because tuber blight was rare.

Reported by

Newcastle Ecological Farming Group
Newcastle University, Nafferton Farm,
NE43 7XD Stocksfield
United Kingdom
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