It may be two weeks early, but now is the time to think about sprout suppressant applications

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The sprout suppressant application window is opening a fortnight early, says root crop protection expert, as potato crops fast approach the optimum end market size already.

Because of this premature potato-growth, the usual maleic hydrazide (sprout suppressant) application window – from late July to mid-August – “may well be too late this year,” said Frontier Agriculture’s root crop protection manager Nick Badger.

He suggests: “Dig some roots now and find out what you’ve got. Then, work back from the ideal lifting date, allowing three to four weeks for crops to die back and set skins, and a further three to five weeks from the start of the desiccation, for the crop to take up maleic hydrazide and get it down into the tubers.”

He added: “If you want to be lifting in early to mid-September, your maleic hydrazide application window opens in early to mid-July: as soon as conditions are right, get it on.”

With that, as the weather forecast looks to be hot and dry in the coming weeks, growers are advised to wait until late evening for the most suitable maleic hydrazide application conditions. That is, temperatures below 25°C and a relative humidity above 75%.

For applications, Mr Badger favours the liquid maleic hydrazide formulation, Crown MH, for its operational efficiency and to maximise the treatment area when conditions are opportune.

Crown MH comes in a 20-litre pack, or a 600-litre intermediate bulk container (IBC), which is transferred to the sprayer tank by Wisdom Systems’ FasTran closed transfer system at a rate of 25l/min.

“The FasTran typically gives you an extra one to two tank loads per day, as well as eliminating operator exposure and waste packaging,” said Mr Badger

He concludes that with the current season as it is, “it is worth taking the time to plan application early to maximise uptake of Crown MH, so you get its full contribution to cost-effective sprout suppression.”

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