In the battle against potato blight, one name stands proud above all others: Sárpo. We find out a little more about the fantastic fungal fighters…
You say potato, I say potahto. You say sarpo…
…I say sharpo. Try it in your best Sean Connery voice with the very opposite of a silent ‘h’. Oh, and NO-ONE says potahto.
Hmm… doesn’t sound especially Scottish to me. Eastern Europe maybe?
Yep, Hungary to be precise. The Sárvári family (SARvari + POtato, geddit?) began developing blight resistant spuds over forty years ago, an enterprise that has now expanded into the Sárvári Research Trust (SRT) which trials loads of new varieties from its base in Bangor, Wales.
Bangor and mash! Ahem. How do they resist the blight?
‘Late blight’ is a fungal disease which is incredibly hard to control. The Sárváris produced their varieties by crossing spuds with wild plants from the potato family that were naturally resistant to blight.
So we’re trying a few on our blight-prone plot this year?
Indeed we are. Joining our heritage spuds will be Sárvári stalwart ‘Sárpo Mira’ – a red skinned tatty which, according to the blurb from Thompson & Morgan, produces “huge yields of tasty, floury tubers”. Other approved varieties include ‘Sárpo Axona’, ‘Sárpo Una’ and ‘Sárpo Gwyn’.
Super Sárpos. Is there anything else that suffers from late blight?
Tomatoes also suffer badly from blight and the allotment is currently a no-go zone for tomato growers so Nick’s greenhouse is the where the tomato action happens. There are a few resistant varieties available but they’re nothing to do with the SRT and, apparently, are much less successful than the spuds.
I say tomato, you say tomahto
Lets call this whole thing off.
If your spuds do succumb to blight then read our top tips on what to do about it here