Early potatoes knocked back by harsh May frosts – Farmers Guardian – David Stead

Unseasonably cold nights were experienced across much of the UK last week, with frosts hitting the south of England and snow falling further north and into Scotland. ...

Hutchinsons agronomist, David Stead, who is based in North Yorkshire, says it is one of the harshest May frosts he has seen in his 10 years as an agronomist. He expects some of the worst hit potato crops might see a small yield penalty.

He says: “The earliest planted crops which were nicely up at rosette stage have had some damage and the outer leaves have been fairly badly crisped up. Luckily a lot is still under fleece which has kept them protected.”

The focus now will be to keep crops as healthy as possible and keep blight out of any wounds caused by the frost he says.

“Manganese and zinc are particular micronutrients that we will be putting on to help compensate for the damage done.”

The dry spring being experienced across much of the UK is also causing difficulties, Mr Stead adds.

“I have got customers irrigating crops before they have even emerged – in my area we have had around 20mm since March 20. The frost on top of that is another extreme.

“The dry weather is also making weed control quite difficult as well because we rely on residual herbicides.”

Disease-wise the cool weather has kept pressure low although a Hutton Criteria has been forecast for this Wednesday into Thursday, he says.


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