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With potato crops around a fortnight ahead of normal, growers who haven't yet done so should consider applying sprout suppressant maleic hydrazide. Spout suppressant window opens fortnight early

With potato crops around a fortnight ahead of normal, growers who haven’t yet done so should consider applying sprout suppressant maleic hydrazide.

Crops are fast approaching optimum end market size so the usual application window from late July to mid-August may well be too late this year, says Nick Badger, root crop protection manager for Frontier Agriculture.

“Dig some roots now and find out what you’ve got,” he adds. 

Lifting date

“Then work back from ideal lifting date allowing three or four weeks for crops to die back and set skins and a further three to five weeks from the start of desiccation for the crop to take up maleic hydrazide and get it down into the tubers.

“If you want to be lifting in early to mid-September your maleic hydrazide application window opens in early to mid-July. As soon as conditions are right, get it on.”

Mr Badger favours liquid maleic hydrazide formulation Crown MH. It comes in a 20-litre pack or a 600 litre IBC which is transferred to the sprayer tank by Wisdom Systems’ FasTran closed transfer system at a rate of 25 L/minute.

“The FasTran typically gives you an extra one or two tank loads a day as well as eliminating operator exposure and waste packaging,” he says.

With the weather forecast looking hot and dry over the next two weeks, particularly so in the east, growers may have to wait until late evening for suitable application conditions: temperature below 25°C and relative humidity above 75%.

Mr Badger adds: “In a season like this, it’s worth taking the time to plan application early to maximise uptake of Crown MH so you get its full contribution to cost-effective sprout suppression in store.”