Fight Against Blight resumes accepting blight samples

Monday, 29 June 2020

Growers are able to submit fresh blight samples for analysis again as the James Hutton Institute (JHI) re-opens its labs.

The news will be welcome to potato growers following a number of blight warnings around the UK in the last few days. JHI was previously unable to accept samples due to government restrictions.

Submitting fresh samples to JHI means that growers can benefit from the new in-season genotyping service introduced last year. The lab can send results back before the end of season, enabling growers to use the data to inform their in-season blight management decisions.

JHI will also accept older samples, provided they were pressed into FTA cards to stabilise the DNA.

Anyone interested in submitting a fresh sample must ensure the sample is fresh and hasn’t decayed and become ‘mushy’.

Following the hot weather during March and April, conditions favouring blight returned in June following heavy rainfall. The Blightwatch service – run jointly by AHDB and the Met Office – sent out a number of alerts warning growers of potential outbreaks. Blightwatch allows growers to receive email alerts triggered by the onset of the ‘Hutton Criteria’ – a formula developed by JHI to identify when a blight outbreak may occur based on temperature and humidity.

Fight Against Blight offers growers a chance to contribute to ongoing work genotyping strains of blight. The service relies on ‘blight scouts’ submitting samples from potato crops, helping researchers track the development of disease and identify new strains.

Blight scouts are volunteers who routinely walk potato fields during the season, collect samples and submit them to the Fight Against Blight lab. The data collected is used to update the Blight Report and Incident summary, allowing growers to see affected areas across the country.

If you’d like to support Fight Against Blight by becoming a blight scout you can order a scout pack from the AHDB website. All details collected are anonymous and only known to the scout themselves.