RESTRICTIONS on seed trade between the UK land EU mean many UK growers are contemplating using home-saved seed potatoes or relying on new supply chains for the first time.
Although European imports were still allowed into the country under a six-month grace period offered by the UK government, as no agreement on resuming exports to the EU had been reached when this unilateral agreement ended at the beginning of July, it was not renewed. Since then it has not been possible for British potato growers to import or export potato seed to or from the European Union, including major seed producing countries like The Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
Previously around 10,000 tonnes of seed potatoes were imported to England from the EU each year, with three times that amount being exported, mostly from Scotland.
While many English ware growers will be able to obtain the seed they need from Scottish or English seed suppliers, for some European varieties, particularly in the processing sector, it may not be possible to obtain sufficient volume of the varieties their customers require.
FERA Science’s Principal Plant Virologist, Adrian Fox, and Bacteriologist, Brian Carter, stressed that when using home-saved seed, it is important that only clean crops that are free from virus and blackleg are used and now is the ideal period for testing to identify fields which may be suitable to use for home-saved seed, according to FERA Crop Science.
Possibly the biggest issue for growers using home-saved seed is the transmission of aphid-borne viruses, and Potato Virus Y (PVY) in particular, although for some varieties Potato Virus A (PVA) and Potato Virus V (PVV) may also be a concern.
We share their advice in the forthcoming issue of Potato Review. Click here to subscribe if you don’t already receive a copy.