Protect against slugs in potato crops

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Slug risk will be high where crops have been planted into cloddy seed beds and potato producers are being urged to use a good quality pellet to protect the crop as soon as tubers reach golf ball size.

With the wet conditions this spring, there have been limited opportunities for seeds planting. John Keer of Richard Austin Agriculture said some have tried to force progress which has resulted in cloddy seed-beds on bodied soils. These can cause unwanted effects on the crop.

Cloddy ridges trigger slug alert in potato crops

John Keer

He said: “When you plant under marginal conditions, you aren’t going to get top quality or yield and there is very little you can do to row it back during the season. The last few springs have given us model planting conditions, but this season there are clearly a lot of crops that have been mauled in.”

Slug Pressure

Mr Keer believes that the prevalence of clod and lack of finer tilth in these situations is going to significantly up the ante with regards to slug pressure:  “Structure of the ridge is the single biggest factor. Wherever there’s clod, the slugs just love those surrounding channels, which enable them to move around more freely. They will inevitably be more of an issue this year.”

To counter the threat, he advised growers to set out slug traps right away to monitor pest activity, particularly where seed was planted in suboptimal conditions. This will help guide best timing for applications of slug pellets, which ideally start as soon as tubers reach a golf ball size, then continue every second or third blight spray while slugs remain active.

Durable pellet

Certis Belchim’s Kate Downes advised using a durable, wet-extruded pellet as the cheaper, dry pressed formulations can fall apart after the first water application. She says Sluxx HP fits into the durable category and is the ideal choice due its wet processed, pasta-based formulation with unique EDDS chelating agent.

“It has proven long-lasting efficacy under wet and irrigated conditions and its even pellet size means it can be spread accurately to distances up to 36m off sprayers, which is now a common practice across the potato area.”

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