The fight against blightPosted Monday 30th April 2012
A comparison between healthy and blighted foliage
Garden Organic has recently updated its potato and tomato blight factsheets in light of changes in the organism causing both potato and tomato blight. These changes have meant that it is much more aggressive than in the past.
Click on potato or tomato to find out more about how to avoid the disease, and what to do should it occur. If you want more detailed information about the disease you can view the Potato Council factsheet here. Ignore the use of chemical sprays mentioned in the factsheet, their advice is not organic.
One of the main focuses of the Potato Council’s work is to help mitigate the damage caused by blight to commercial potato crops. Although set up to work with commercial growers, the Potato Council also have an interest in home gardeners, not least because allotment and garden crops can be significant early sources of blight infection for commercial crops, accounting for around 5% of all commercial outbreaks. Primarily for growers, amateurs can also sign up so you get email alerts when there is blight risk in your area.
How you can help
The Potato Council runs the Fight against Blight scheme, alongside the Blightwatch initiative. Blightwatch lets growers know, by email, when the weather conditions in their postal district have been suitable for the spread of blight (a Smith Period). Fight against Blight alerts growers to the actual presence of blight.
300 ‘blight scouts’ across the country watch out for signs of blight throughout the season. They send samples of infected foliage to the Potato Council for confirmation that it is blight (even the professionals get it wrong sometimes) and it is then recorded on a map.
Gardeners and allotment holders can also sign up, free of charge, to the email alert service for both Fight against Blight and Blightwatch.
Could you be a blight monitor?
The Potato Council are looking to recruit volunteer blight monitors from across the country, who would send a sample from the first suspected outbreak in their allotment. A sampling kit including pre-paid envelopes and instructions will be provided.
This exercise helps alert others to the spread of blight, through the Blightwatch service, and also helps with national research into changes in blight populations.
If you are interested in becoming a blight monitor for your allotment site, please email: email@example.com with your name, address and mobile number.