Succumbing to the pull

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10 November 2022
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Following second trial season, growing/supplying company looks to extend machine haulm pulling to other areas in 2023.

LINCOLNSHIRE grower and supplier Branston Ltd has spent a second season trialling a machine-led haulm destruction method and is looking to roll the technique out to more crops next year, having been impressed with the results.

 

The Vegniek DiscMaster LS200 precision haulm puller, supplied by Standen Imports, was used instead of using alternative methods of haulm destruction such as pre-topping and chemical desiccation.

 

Branston was keen to trial this haulm destruction method to gain advantages in disease reduction advantage and reduce time lag between haulm removal and harvest. Being chemical-free means a reduced input usage in the growing cycle which Branston has been keen to explore.

 

This year the company trialled a 0.5ha area of Laura seed crop in Yorkshire. Three beds were topped to a flail height of 8”, this being a critical height to get the best result out of the puller. Standen staff stressed that if it is too short, it reduces the percentage of pulled stems.

 

The rows then had a pass with the Vegniek LS200 2-row DiscMaster haulm puller.

 

Technical Lead at Branston, Martin Stothard, has overseen these trials and said he has been very impressed so far with the output from the machine.

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“We decided to trial the Vegniek DiscMaster Precision haulm puller this year in a crop of Laura seed as the variety has a very upright growth habit and, as a result of the heat and drought, a thin canopy, making pulling very effective,” he said.

 

During the DiscMaster single pass, forward speeds of 4km/h were achieved and the machine was more than 95% effective at pulling the stems, resulting in very little exposure of tubers out of the top of the ridge, despite the very dry soil conditions.

 

Immediate growth stop

Two weeks post-pull assessments were carried out by Branston to look at four key areas: Stolon detachment, skin set, size gain and disease loading.

 

Martin said: “The pulled crop had 100% stolon detachment two weeks after pulling compared to the fail plus spray crop which still had 50% tubers tightly hanging on to the stolons. Skin set was seven to 10 days ahead of the flail plus spray crop, both of which are huge advantages to growers, allowing harvesting to commence sooner.”

Further details on the haulm-pulling trial and more information will be featured in the January issue of Potato Review. You can subscribe here if you don't already receive a copy.

You can also find more details here.

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