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New hope for potato virus control The UK seed potato sector loses an estimated £18m from potato viruses annually, a cost that could be dramatically reduced by one small change to spray programmes, according to research and commercial trials conducted in The Netherlands. The findings from five years’ worth of trials with an Interagro adjuvant called Banka, has shown an increase in virus control of 18 per cent when applied with a pyrethroid insecticide up to, and including, tuber initiation. The work, conducted by Holland Fyto, also recorded an average improvement in potato yields of 0.89t/ha which translates into an estimated margin gain of £178/ha (based on a potato price of £200/t). With resistance to pyrethroid insecticides now widespread, coupled with the succession of relatively mild winters encouraging survival of a higher number of aphids, the need for some positive news is likely to be highly welcome. The UK’s 17,000ha of seed plantings is vulnerable to two key viruses within four weeks of planting, 05R16B

both are transmitted by aphids – potato leaf roll virus (PLRV) and the Protyviruses, including potato virus Y (PVY). This is a big vulnerability for the sector, given that virusfree status of seed is fundamental to both the national and export markets. PVYN (veinal necrosis strain) and recombinant PVYNTN (N-tuber necrosis) are key viruses for both UK and The Netherlands with the peach potato aphid being the major aphid vector – just one “drill” for a few minutes, and the job is done. Growers must take a zerotolerance approach to prevent virus transmission to avoid rejection by seed crop inspectors. The Dutch Banka trials clearly showed a reliable improvement in virus control from the addition of Banka in each of the five years tested and demonstrated improved reliability over mineral oils, excellent crop safety and improved rainfastness of 30 minutes, helping to maintain tight spray intervals in marginal weather, reports Interagro’s product manager, Sarah Ferrie. “The trials also logged a tuber number gain with Banka, versus a substantial

Potatoes

loss using mineral oil Olie-H, not currently registered here in the UK. “Growers involved in Holland Fyto’s commercial trials observed that crops treated with Banka were more resistant to haulm collapse following torrential rain, a disadvantage typically experienced when using high dose mineral oil. Growers really appreciated the very low dose, 0.1 per cent v/v Banka versus 2.1 per cent Olie-H. At a water volume of 300-litres/ha, that means the grower applies 0.3-litres/ha Banka versus 6.25-litres/ha mineral oil and is therefore much more efficient for growers.” Practically, Ms Ferrie thinks Banka is a good fit for UK growers. “Where crops are at high risk of virus transmission, mineral oil may be added to the insecticide to improve coverage, but they clearly have disadvantages. Banka delivers reliable and crop safe improvement in pyrethroid efficacy. “We recommend Banka for application in tank-mix with all leading potato pyrethroid insecticides and fungicides at inclusion rates of just 0.075–0.1 per

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Interagro’s product manager, Sarah Ferrie.

cent by volume up to and including tuber initiation,” she said. The Holland Fyto trials were based on treatments applied at 80 per cent crop emergence with Sumicidin Super (25g/litre esfenvalerate), applied weekly over 10 weeks in a mancozebfree programme. All applications were made using a 75 per cent drift-reduction nozzle, the Teejet Airmix 110-04. Water volumes were 300-litres/ha and the crop had 100 per cent PVY infection in the two outer rows. ■

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