Arriving just in time for the application season, Itcan SL 270 is a new, liquid formulation of maleic hydrazide registered for use in onion and potato crops.
The maximum label rate for use on potatoes is 11.1 l/ha which delivers 2,997gai/ha (the same as Fazor at 5kg/ha). For the onion crop, the maximum recommended dose is 8.9 l/ha, delivering 2,403 gai/ha.
Independent potato agronomist John Sarup, of SPUD Agronomy, believes that the 2017 season is one where the other benefits of maleic hydrazide application must be considered in addition to sprout suppression.
“Volunteer potatoes are becoming more and more of an issue and their control starts in the growing potato crop. With around 2,000 growers planting the UK’s 120,000ha (approx.) of potatoes, there’s a huge dependency on rented land but growers still need to take responsibility for volunteers, especially if rented fields form part of their potato rotation,” he says.
Volunteer potatoes in succeeding crops play host to PCN, compounding future problems if they’re left uncontrolled, as well as being a primary source of blight inoculum for nearby potato crops.
“With rented land, the danger is that control of volunteer potatoes goes awry or doesn’t get done in the intervening crops, when the potato growers isn’t in control of the agronomy. It’s not a great position to be in when you can see volunteer potatoes poking above wheat or barley crops and know you’re due to have spuds in the field in the spring,” he adds.
The effect maleic hydrazide has on stopping cell division is another reason growers could benefit from an application, highlights Mr Sarup.
“It’s been a year of very dry conditions and sporadic rainfall, which means some varieties are at a high risk of either secondary growths or chain tuberisation, causing quality problems when it comes to marketing,” he explains.
When it comes to storage, Mr Sarup believes maleic hydrazide’s role as a sprout suppressant may prove useful as the pressure increases on the standard industry treatment, CIPC, which is seeing a reduction in the maximum total dose to 36 g/tonne this season.
“Where growers have applied maleic hydrazide, they’ll see the benefit later in the storage season, especially on varieties that are a bit ‘lively’ and the CIPC needs a helping hand,” he comments.
But whatever the reason for applying maleic hydrazide, there are a number of things to bear in mind for a successful outcome, he points out.
“The crops must be actively growing to get translocation of the maleic hydrazide down to the tubers, so don’t apply to drought stressed crops or during the heat of the day. Get it on early enough – I recommend application when the smallest tuber you want to keep going is just 25mm in size,” he says.
James Kennedy, commercial director of Gemini Agriculture, believes the liquid formulation of Itcan will make the spraying operation a much easier one.
“Itcan is available in a number of different sizes, from 15 litre drums to 1000 litre IBCs, so will suit different scales of enterprises. IBCs are delivered with a pump and flow meter to allow easy and accurate dosing and have the added benefits of reducing operator exposure and waste disposal issues,” he says.
“Use of Itcan is already well established in Europe, with an increasing market share so growers can feel assured the liquid formulation offers the same efficacy as market alternatives.”