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Late blight control in potato farming: Key lessons from Syngenta UK’s webinar

In the ever-evolving world of potato farming, the “Fight Against Blight” remains a top priority in Britain. A 2022 YouTube video by Syngenta UK, titled “Potato Late Blight Webinar,” offers a wealth of information on the latest techniques and products for blight control.

This article aims to provide a succinct summary of the video’s content, focusing on the key takeaways for potato farmers.

The webinar begins with a discussion on the importance of nozzle selection in spray applications. The presenters, Harry Fordham and Andy Cunningham, emphasize the role of nozzle type in the efficacy of fungicide applications. They highlight the Syngenta 3D 90 nozzle as a standout performer, even when used with a drift retardant. The 3D 90 nozzle demonstrated superior performance compared to other nozzles, offering excellent disease control.

The presenters then delve into the effectiveness of different fungicides and their application techniques. They highlight M4 Plus, a product that has shown significant success in controlling late blight. The addition of a drift retardant to M4 Plus was found to have a positive and significant impact on disease control levels.

The webinar also explores the implications of losing mancozeb, a multi-site fungicide that has been a staple in blight control. The loss of mancozeb could potentially leave a significant gap in blight programs, and the presenters stress the need for manufacturers to find an alternative multi-site product.

The video also touches on the topic of Alternaria, another fungal pathogen that can affect potato crops. While not as severe as late blight, Alternaria can be tricky to diagnose and is typically not controlled with a standard late blight program. The presenters mention M4 Plus as an effective product against Alternaria, thanks to its diethofencarb component.

The webinar concludes with a Q&A session, where the presenters answer queries about the drift reduction work and its potential inclusion in future labels. They also discuss the differences between various drift retardants and the need for further research to determine the most effective ones.

Here are some of the key points:

  1. Interest in Drift Reduction Work: One of the attendees asked if the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) was interested in the drift reduction work and if this could be part of labels going forward. Harry Fordham responded that while the CRD does consider drift mitigation techniques in all registrations, the use of drift retardants as an approved drift mitigation technique is still under discussion.
  2. Differences Between Drift Retardants: Another question revolved around the differences between various drift retardants. Andy Cunningham admitted that it was a complex issue and promised to follow up with more information. He noted that there was no clear reason why one of the retardants performed poorly compared to the others in their trials, suggesting that factors beyond the formulation of the retardant might be at play.
  3. Effect of Amistar on Alternaria: An attendee asked if Amistar, a fungicide, had any effect on Alternaria, another fungal pathogen that can affect potato crops. Andy Cunningham confirmed that it did, but he did not provide specific data during the session.
  4. Recommendation for Using Drift Retardant with Rivas: A question was raised about whether a drift retardant should still be used when applying Rivas in a tank mix. Andy Cunningham recommended using a drift retardant, as it not only keeps the product where it should be but also improves spray deposition.
  5. Sign Up for Blightcast: The final question was about how to sign up for Blightcast, a service that provides daily updates on blight. Andy Cunningham directed the attendee to Google “Blightcast” and sign up through the Syngenta homepage.

The Q&A session underscored the complexity of blight control and the ongoing research and discussions in this field. It also highlighted the importance of engaging with experts and staying updated on the latest developments to effectively manage blight in potato crops.

The conclusion and key takeaways from the webinar can be summarized as follows:

  1. Importance of Nozzle Selection: The type of nozzle used in spray applications significantly impacts the efficacy of fungicide applications. The Syngenta 3D 90 nozzle was highlighted as a standout performer, providing excellent disease control even when used with a drift retardant.
  2. Effectiveness of Fungicides and Application Techniques: The webinar emphasized the effectiveness of different fungicides and their application techniques. M4 Plus, a fungicide, was highlighted for its significant success in controlling late blight. The addition of a drift retardant to M4 Plus was found to significantly improve disease control levels.
  3. Implications of Losing Mancozeb: Mancozeb, a multi-site fungicide, has been a staple in blight control. The potential loss of mancozeb could leave a significant gap in blight control programs. The presenters stressed the need for manufacturers to find an alternative multi-site product to fill this gap.
  4. Alternaria Control: Alternaria, another fungal pathogen that can affect potato crops, was discussed. While not as severe as late blight, Alternaria can be tricky to diagnose and is typically not controlled with a standard late blight program. M4 Plus was mentioned as an effective product against Alternaria, thanks to its diethofencarb component.
  5. Continued Research and Development: The webinar underscored the need for continued research and development in the field of blight control. This includes further research into the effectiveness of various drift retardants and the development of new multi-site fungicides to replace mancozeb.

In conclusion, the webinar provided valuable insights into the latest advancements in blight control techniques. As the fight against blight continues, such knowledge will be crucial in maintaining healthy and productive potato crops. Farmers are encouraged to stay updated on the latest developments and consult with agronomists or other experts before making changes to their farming practices.

The full YouTube version of the webinar can be accessed here.

Video source: Syngenta UK
Summary article: Written and published by Potato News Today
Photo: Credit Syngenta UK

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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