With disease pressure high and the crop protection programme for cereals concluded, yet another challenging season of twists and turns is heading to an interesting culmination.

Cereals have good potential; however, with the high level of disease pressure, that potential will be dependent on the spray programme that growers have used.

The crop protection programme for potatoes is, on the other hand, very much in full swing. Conditions have been far from ideal for this crop.

A very dry April and then, in May, Scotland received 170% of the long-term average rainfall resulting in taxing conditions for growers.

Eric Anderson, director and senior agronomist at Scottish Agronomy explained:

“Ware growers who started planting in the colder soil temperatures of April, got through the planting season uninterrupted, however, seed growers who delayed planting waiting for the soils to warm up were caught out by the heavy rain in May.

So many seed growers began planting in May, but it was then almost a month before they got back to the same fields.

"This has given a strong challenge in that potatoes have been emerging over a period of six to seven weeks from planting whereas normally they would emerge 3- 4 weeks from planting.”

Crops are now growing vigorously, with some emerging now into very warm ambient air conditions which means even more rapid growth and challenges from late blight.

Blight protection

Anderson said:

With the crop canopy doubling in height almost every seven days, unless growers are using fungicide products with truly systemic activity then it is difficult to get the new leaves protected against late blight.

"We are also faced with night temperatures which are now commonly above 10°, an arbitrary threshold in relation to late blight within the crop and weather which is conducive to late blight. It is certainly challenging."