Two alternative means of desiccating potato crops were trialled during the 2022 season and both machines offer potential, although more work is planned to optimise use in British conditions, as Adam Clarke reports in an extensive article for Farmers Weekly.
The key to successful potato desiccation is rapid kill of all green material above ground, reducing the risk of late-season virus transmission and foliar disease development.
Available chemical options, the PPO-inhibiting herbicides Gozai and Spotlight, can work well on their own given the right conditions – bright and sunny. But if conditions are not ideal, they can be slow and sometimes require up to four applications (two of each) to get the job done.
Since the loss of diquat, most farms have moved to a flail and spray technique, mechanically removing the bulk of the haulm before using PPOs to kill the remaining leaf and stem.
Work carried out in recent seasons to test the worth of alternative desiccation systems is starting to build a picture on where they might fit in future desiccation programmes.
In his article, Adam Clarke reports in depth on CropZone’s hybrid electric weeder and the Vegniek Discmaster haulm puller.