A new ranking system for potato varieties according to their susceptibility to wireworm feeding damage has been developed in Scotland.
Scottish Agronomy and the Scottish Crop Research Institute have rated 12 varieties thus far and researchers have found that wireworm can put on significant weight when feeding on some varieties but lose weight when feeding on others.
The first ever ranking of potato varieties' susceptibility to wireworm feeding damage has been begun because the pest has become a widespread problem throughout arable areas of England and Scotland.
Until now growers have used their experience and anecdotal evidence to decide on the varieties to be planted. The most susceptible group includes two second earlies - Maris Peer and Marfona - and the maincrop variety Rooster. The least susceptible group includes pre-pack varieties Nadine, Harmony and King Edward and the most widely grown all-rounder, Maris Piper.
"By choosing less susceptible varieties or switching varieties between fields, according to wireworm pressure, growers can manage the risk of damage," Scottish Agronomy researcher Eric Anderson said. This should be possible without compromising market outlet as every packer has a range of varieties they will accept.
"On the increasing number of high wireworm risk sites, soil treatment with a nematicide can never be expected to completely eliminate damage," he said.