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Programmed approach key to controlling blight

Following the most horrendous blight year that many can remember, it is vital growers learn from the lessons of last season and utilise a programmed blight-fungicide approach that incorporates kickback and protection

Following the most horrendous blight year that many can remember, it is vital growers learn from the lessons of last season and utilise a programmed blight-fungicide approach that incorporates kickback and protection. 

David Harris, Arable Manager for Hutchinsons based in the South West, explains how he viewed last season and what lessons growers can take forward. 

“2012 was a difficult year for blight control, the worst I have seen for a number of years. Apart from the effect of wind and rain on spraying, there was also the problem of physically travelling in fields due to the conditions. It was not unusual to see banks flattened by sinking machinery.”    

He recalls that keeping to any sort of programme was a big problem on larger acreages and resulted in some circumstances of spraying during unsuitable conditions. “During the worst weather-spells it did leave you wondering if you’d been able to achieve any positive results,” notes David. 

Growers should be looking to learn from last years’ extreme conditions, explains David. “Don’t try to stretch spray intervals.  Aim for a 7 day interval with 4-5 days being the target in challenging conditions. The cost of an extra blight spray or two in a programme is insignificant when faced with losing the crop,” he cautions. 

David explains how a programmed approach can keep blight at bay. “Use the best products at the appropriate time. Valbon can fit into a programme during the early growth period or the stable canopy phase.

“When pressure is high and in rapid growth periods, products with translaminar activity and some kickback are ideal, but the key to successful blight control is to use all the products available in a programme, alternating modes of action,” reveals David.

“By alternating sprays and mode of action, it allows for tight spray intervals whilst minimising the risk of crop resistance.”

David explains why he feels the addition of mancozeb in Valbon should not be underestimated. “Mancozeb adds a valuable source of trace elements and also assists with Alternaria control in susceptible varieties.

“After last year you cannot say that any one product stood out, but using a programme containing the top 4 or 5 products definitely gave the best results. In my opinion, using the right product at the right time is half the battle, but keeping timings tight is vital,” concludes David.