Oh dear, blight on the horizon?

So, there we are with our wonderful new plotshare, half of it already in excellent cultivation, and already the serpent has appeared in our little Eden.

I was making the most of Sunday’s sunshine when I looked along the row of potatoes our ‘official’ plotholder had planted with such care, and I saw a single potato - out of line but earthed-up - and with the wrong colour flowers just about emerging, to boot.

So I dragged our lovely plotholder, Duncan, out of his Sunday lie-in to tell me what he thought and we agreed that it's probably a rogue from the previous owner not clearing the bed properly which Duncan had earthed up by mistake. Being a remnant means it may well be harbouring blight, so out it came, I carried it home in a plastic bag and it's going in the bin tonight!

The dirty on potato blight

The first signs are darker or brownish patch and yellowing of the leaves, which may either curl up or turn black, then a white bloom develops on the underside as the foliage dies. The spores produced by the fungal bloom are washed down into the soil resulting in dark spots on the potatoes and reddish-brown stains like rust appearing right through the flesh. Potato blight can survive the winter as mycelium (tiny spores) especially if tubers are left behind in the soil after harvest. The fungus grows on shoots from these tubers the next spring and – in the nastiest possible way -produces asexual spores which are airborne to new crops during warm moist conditions.

Treatment

At the first signs of infection the top growth or haulms, should cut off and destroyed to prevent the spores being washed down to the tubers. All leaf debris should be removed too, and the entire blighted crop should be removed from the site.

Now we just have to wait and see if we got to it in time! Potato blight is the absolute pigging end in my opinion.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, June 2, 2008

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