Cloddy ridges trigger slug alert in potato crops


01 June 2023
Trying to force progress could bring unwanted visitors, says specialist.

WHERE crops have been planted into cloddy seed-beds, slug risk will be high and potato producers are urged to protect against the pest with a good quality pellet as soon as tubers reach golf ball size.

Growers have been battling wet soil conditions this spring, with the persistent rain through March and April limiting opportunities to get seed into the ground.

John Keer of Richard Austin Agriculture says some have tried to force progress, which has resulted in cloddy seed-beds on bodied soils. These can cause many unwanted effects on the crop throughout the season.

“When you plant under marginal conditions, you aren’t going to get top quality or yield and there is very little you can do to row it back during the season.

“The last few springs have given us model planting conditions, but this season there are clearly a lot of crops that have been mauled in,” said John (pictured).

He believes the prevalence of clod and lack of finer tilth in these situations is going to significantly up the ante with regards to slug pressure.

“Structure of the ridge is the single biggest factor. Wherever there’s clod, the slugs just love those surrounding channels, which enable them to move around more freely. They will inevitably be more of an issue this year.”

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To counter the threat, he advises growers to set out slug traps right away to monitor pest activity, particularly where seed was planted in suboptimal conditions.

This will help guide best timing for applications of slug pellets, which ideally start as soon as tubers reach a golf ball size, then continue every second or third blight spray while slugs remain active.

“Use a durable, wet-extruded pellet, particularly if you are under irrigation. The cheaper, dry pressed formulations tend to fall apart soon after the first water application or rain.”

Certis Belchim’s Kate Downes says Sluxx HP fits into the durable category and is the ideal choice owing to its wet processed, pasta-based formulation with unique EDDS chelating agent.

“It has proven long-lasting efficacy under wet and irrigated conditions and its even pellet size means it can be spread accurately to distances up to 36m off sprayers, which is now a common practice across the potato area,” she said.

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