Irlanda: Met Éireann issues potato blight warning for entire country
Met Éireann has today (Wednesday, July 20) issued a Status Yellow warning for potato blight for the entire country.
The national forecaster stated that weather conditions conducive to the spread of the disease will develop over most of the country from Friday night (July 22) to Sunday afternoon (July 24).
Met Éireann added that there will be good opportunities to spray crops until Friday evening.
The warning is currently set to remain in place until 3:00p.m on Sunday.
Blight is caused by an airborne fungus called Phytophthora Infestans.
Very high humidity, combined with the odd shower, provide the perfect weather conditions to allow the disease to spread.
Early potato blight takes the form of dark brown spots with circular rings giving a target appearance. These spots may merge to form dead patches.
The disease can be differentiated from late blight as white mould-bearing spores do not develop around the foliage spots during humid weather conditions.
In Europe, a heavy increase of early blight infestation occurs from mid-July onwards, especially during hot and dry weather or when the potato crop is under stress, and on physiologically older plants.
The disease then starts spreading from the lower leaves to the middle and finally upper leaf levels.
Around €5 million is spent on fungicides annually in Ireland to mitigate the impacts of potato blight.