Potatoes can suffer from a range of pests and diseases – ranging from scab, which causes superficial damage, to blight, which can destroy a whole crop. The best strategy is to take the following steps to prevent problems arising.
Pest and disease prevention
Variety choice: Varieties are available with resistance to blight, blackleg, scab, potato cyst eelworm and other problems.
Seed potatoes: Use certified seed potatoes to avoid introducing pests and diseases. Home saved seed from healthy crops can be used for a year or two, but virus levels may build up quickly. Never save seed from a diseased crop.
Crop rotation: Grow potatoes on a 3 or 4 year rotation to help avoid build-up of soil-borne pests and diseases, such as potato eelworm and scab. See factsheet GG19, Crop rotation, for more information.
Soil improvement: Compost and other rotted organic materials help keep soil borne pests and diseases under control. They also help the soil to retain moisture, encouraging strong growth. Compost fed plants are less attractive to pests than those given artificial fertilisers.