TRADE AND MARKET I NG Opportunities for the potato in Belarus RESEARCH INSTITUTE WANTS TO INCREASE CULTIVATION KNOWLEDGE At the agricultural research station just south of Minsk, researcher Maryna Kanopatskaya explains that the institute specialises in plant protection and acceptance testing of new products. ‘The potato is a very important crop for the growers in Belarus, which is why we do a lot of research. The challenge is to increase the current yields by transferring knowledge to the growers. So many collective farms have a subscription for advice and research on location’, she explains enthusiastically. Neonicotinoids still allowed In her introduction, Kanopatskaya reflects on the challenges that cultivation present. She argues that Early blight, Phytophthora, and leatherjackets and especially the Colorado beetle pose a big problem. She shows that 57 percent of plant protection chemicals used by the Belarusian growers during the growing season are insecticides compared to 29 percent for fungicides. The last 14 percent is a combination of fungicides and insecticides. Neonicotinoids are allowed in Belarus. Developments in the EU, where neonicotinoids are banned, are of great concern to the researcher to keep potato cultivation going, should local authorities follow this example. High weed pressure In addition, the country has a high weed pressure, say researchers Galina Sereda and Irina Vaga. They quote from research results showing that proper weed control gives a doubling of the yield compared to no control. This seems exaggerated, but many small growers don’t carry out any weed control and can therefore easily increase in yield with a relatively small investment. Olaf van Campen, who travelled with the Adama company, has introduced an effective solution to this problem in Belarus this year and also in the Netherlands and Belgium recently. His advice is to tackle weeds preferably before their emergence or otherwise just after ridging. The new chemical Tavas is a combination of a new active substance diflufenican with the well-known metribuzin (known from Sencor). As a result, the weed controller has two different reference points, which means that the product has a broad effect, according to Van Campen. ‘Growers can use Tavas on its own, but they can also use it together with other herbicides. The herbicide is authorised for both ware and starch potatoes and has a good effect on orach, cleaver, black nightshade and camomile’, explains Van Campen on the trial field of the institute. Kanopatskaya says that in Belarus this year, as in the rest of Europe, it was very dry and that growers haven’t sprayed much against Phytophthora. Normally, late blight is a problem according to the researcher. Belarus is in fact on the transition of a continental climate to a maritime climate, with cold winters and mostly humid summers. Average temperatures range from -4° to -8° Celsius in January to 19 degrees in July. The hottest month is July, with temperatures up to 30° Celsius. The institute has a warning service to report when conditions are favourable for potato late blight. ‘Problems with early blight are also increasing in Belarus’, adds the local Adama account manager Alexander Azarov. ‘This is why our Banjo Forte, which contains dimethomorph as well as Fluazinam, which suppresses early blight, is popular. This year, too, there’s a lot of pressure, which can also be spotted in the research institute’s trial field’, says the Belarusian specialist. Happy faces at the trial field with, from left to right: Patrick Dieleman, Galina Sereda, Dzmitry Pliatsau, Guy Vroman, Olaf van Campen, Alexander Azarov, Irina Vaga and Maryna Kanopatskaya 32 Potato World 2018 • number 4 Pagina 31

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