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Growers warned of tuber vulnerability

With main crop harvest preparations underway and haulm destruction programmes commencing across many potato fields, Agrii’s Douglas Bain is warning growers of the risk of significant slug attack to this season’s tubers and the need for robust, sustained control until lifting begins.

With main crop harvest preparations underway and haulm destruction programmes commencing across many potato fields, Agrii’s Douglas Bain is warning growers of the risk of significant slug attack to this season’s tubers and the need for robust, sustained control until lifting begins.  

“Growers this season have got to get involved with using a mix of slug control actives and treatments and adopt an approach that minimises water related concerns,” he is urging.

“Fields are currently crawling with every kind of slug. They are sitting on the surface and even on lighter land there is already extensive feeding damage visible on leaves, plants are just littered with holes,” he says. “Already this season populations have far exceeded what we have seen for a number of years now.”

He adds that whilst the current level of vegetation is keeping the pest above the drill line, once the haulm is removed and all green leaf material destroyed, they will head directly for the tubers. “Maris Piper, King Edward and Desiree are particularly susceptible,” adds Douglas.
 
“While slugs won’t be reaching tubers just yet as  they are still too small, they will likely make a bee line, once burn down begins and the tubers mature, becoming more succulent and appealing. Continued treatments after burn down will be critical this year, especially on heavier soils,” he explains.

This season Douglas is advocating the use ferric phosphate (Sluxx) and methiocarb as the foundation of his control strategies. Alternated as a sequence throughout the season.

“There is no way, potato growers especially, can succeed with metaldehyde as the only source of active ingredient this season,” he believes, highlighting the 700g a.i. of metaldehyde/ha statutory maximum total dose is per calendar year rather than per crop. “Particularly in situations where wheat will follow and slug pellets will more-often-than not been need to be applied,” he says.

“The environmental profile of Sluxx is very strong, and the packers like it. There are a good number of baiting points (66/m2) and there are also not the issues associated with the likes of metaldehyde or methiocarb.

“It’s a viable solution to maintain slug control across the entire potato crop, even in higher risk, vulnerable areas,” he believes. “And with a nil harvest interval requirement, it can be used right up until harvest starts, which could be crucial this season.”

Douglas notes that for new users of Sluxx, even once the colour is lost from the pellet under severe wet weather like that of late, the pellet is still viable and doing its job. “Growers need to be looking for signs of damage and slug activity as the measure of whether it’s working.”