Elmwood College has just concluded another successful two-week potato roguing course. Each year in the region of 24 students enrol on the course, which teaches the identification of potato varieties and of the diseases which effect the potato crop.
Potato roguing for the uninitiated is the removal of diseased plants and their tubers of a different variety from the potato crop.
Lecturer David Hulbert said, “Roguing is not for the faint hearted. It’s hard work and requires large amounts of stamina, a strong back, good eyesight and the ability to cope with the Scottish summer weather.”
Potato crops are prone to a range of fungal and bacterial diseases as well as aphid-borne diseases. Potato crop inspection and roguing, play an important part in the control of disease and the production of high quality potatoes – maintaining Scotland’s reputation as a leading producer of quality seed potatoes. The financial implications of a crop not achieving the desired certification level can be quite devastating to the farmers’ income.
Climate change has made the role of the potato roguer even more important, as the severe frosts are no longer a regular feature of the Scottish winter allowing aphids, which spread severe mosaic and leaf roll diseases to survive the winter in greater numbers. Groundkeepers – potatoes, which survive from a previous years crop, are also an increasing issue as frost fails to kill them off, allowing them to grow in following years contaminating crops in succeeding years.
Photographed. Elmwood Potato Rouging Students with tutor David Hulbert (Far Right).