July and August is a funny old time of the year, as whilst my combinable crop colleagues are all off on holiday enjoying a well-earned break, those of us involved in veg and potatoes and are still trudging around the countryside looking at fields. Sugar beet less so, as the first fungicides are on, so I just need to keep an eye on these crops.
This means the garden has been neglected, but despite this, we have had some excellent raspberries with huge cane growth which tells me that next year I need to be watering them hard if we don't get the rain. The weeds are enormous and the beetroot is the best we've ever grown.
It must be down to the weather as it's certainly not my agronomy.
It's also a time of open days and events for both beet and potatoes. As well as our own Potato Demo in Holbeach I've been to the Potato Partnership trials down in Suffolk, a couple of NIAB/CUPGRA events and a few McCain open days.
Sugar-beet wise I've been to some BBRO days and look forward to more in September.
All of these were excellent. Organisers put a huge amount of time and money into them, and I encourage growers and agronomists alike to take the time and attend, as you never know what you will pick up that is relevant. It's all very well getting a report from someone else, but the few pieces of information that they may have missed, could be the most relevant to you. And of course, the gossip amongst the attendees is even more interesting.
It was at one of these events that a journalist I know quite well suggested I pack up writing this column as its too samey and should hand it over to someone younger. However, he probably doesn't know that samey in Norfolk means you want more of the same and not less. Maybe he's right though and I'll muse over that as the season progresses.
The next potato event will be the Blight Open day on September 5 at Eurofins in Derbyshire. There is a good level of blight in the plots I've been told which doesn't surprise me as there's a scattering in some fields, so again go along as it's very informative. It was at this event a few years ago we first really become aware of EU 37 A2, the fluazinam resistant strain was the talking point of the event. At our own blight site it's all EU 36 A2 so far this season but who knows what's around the corner.
I've also just sat in on the GB Potato Cyst Nematode Forum inaugural meeting. It's been set up by GB Potatoes and NIAB and its aim is to bring the latest research and develop best practices to help manage PCN in the UK.
The members of the forum are from all the different sectors of the UK potato industry, and I look forward to seeing some of the outcomes over the next few years to help manage the ongoing problem we have with PCN.
In beet the question is what's the price for next year, probably solved by the time you read this. And are we going to have an issue with beet moth or cercospora?
The weather forecast as I write in the middle of August has suggested we will get heavy rain with high humidity and some tropical nights where temperatures remain above 20degC further south, not quite in the beet growing areas. This is exactly what we had in 2020 when we had the big problem with cercospora. It's already out there, but not too aggressive at present so we all need to be aware and watch out for the BBRO Cercospora warnings and act accordingly.
Although my major concern at present is the algal bloom which is upsetting the bass fishing on the Norfolk coast, hopefully the easterly winds over the next few days will disperse it.