April has brought its fair share of issues for potato growers. The ground started off dry and got drier for lots of growers with little moisture to make a decent bed in some areas. Night time frosts were frequent and day time temperatures struggled to rise above 10 degrees Celsius. Early planted seed tubers are starting to emerge in some areas while many are still quite a bit away.
Rhizoctonia Solani will be an issue this year as it likes colder soils and will have plenty of time to attack sprouts, causing damage or killing them off completely. Damage to the sprout / stolon will give an uneven crop emergence which will continue through development and give reduced tuber numbers for the plant. As temperatures increase and after emergence the stolon's become stronger, the danger from rhizoctonia attacking or killing the plant subsides. There is still a danger to the tubers in the form of black scurf, elephant hide and deformations when rhizoctonia is present in the soil or brought in on infected seed.
The cold conditions can also cause emergence issues for any seed tubers that may have not been top quality. Any tubers with signs of gangrene, dry rot or any bacterial rot will have plenty of time to break down further and either delay or stop emergence.
Now we are into May month, we have had some rain and the night frosts have stopped, we will see a bit more movement in the drills.