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  • When I was leaving the allotments on Monday there were whispered warnings that blight was about. I was told to go straight back and cut the tops of all my potatoes.

    No "I said

    Oh foolishness was the reply but I slipped round the blockade and escaped. I had been digging, weeding and hoeing for three hours and still had to walk home with Pops my dog. I always go via St James Green to give her a run before she bounded home and I trudged in her wake. I wondered if I had been "foolish but" regardless continued my journey homewards.

    My plan with my potatoes was to plant early Duke of York, mid season Picasso and main crop Rooster. The Duke of York I dug last week, in August the Picasso would be ready. Finally the Rooster could be harvested September October time. Hmm if any of the crop got blight the potatoes would rot in the ground and contaminate the ground with the disease.

    On Tuesday I dug up the Picaso a really good yield from one kilo of seed potatoes and lots of big tubers perfect for Jacket Potatoes. Should I also dig up the roosters. My heart sank I already had more Potatoes than I knew what to do with? Oh sigh! I looked at the roosters some of the leaves where brown was that wind burn or blight? I decided I would dig them up next visit and store them and dig over the bed and edge it ready for the winter crops.

    Were the wise old timer plot holders right to panic about potatoes blight? Yes It can wipe out the plants overnight and, worse still, it can infect the tubers causing them to rot in storage. In a sack it will travel from potato to potato ruining the lot.

    During the past week the conditions were perfect for the potatoes fungus Phytopthora infestans, It has been warm, wet and humid. Tuesday the humidity was 90% the spores spread through the air and the spores have had a "Smith period" more 48 hours of perfect weather for them to spread from one end of the allotments to the other helped by strong winds.

    I may go down to my plot on Friday and find that the main crop potatoes now have blight and are rotting in the ground. hopefully they will still be OK.

    The commercial grows are already struggling with waterlogged soil and now we have Smith Occurences of 10 degrees centigrade and high humidity of over 90% not just for 48 hours but day on day. Potato blight is one of the worst disease problems for the potato growers.

    I should be grateful for the my harvest of potatoes and not whining about the my spoilt potato harvest plan. I did enjoy a lovely jacket potato last night and today I am going to make leek and potato soup, potato and celery soup, potato and onion soup..........
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