An economic analysis was made of old results from 1993-1996 (22 field trials) and new results from 2010-2013 (12 field trials) obtained in field trials with different doses of fungicides to control potato late blight (PLB) and potato tuber blight (PTB) caused by Phytophthora infestans. The objective was to determine the economically optimal dose for effective control.
In 1993-1996, the economic net return was highest for long intervals of about two weeks between treatments and a dose of 60% of the recommended level. The difference between the experimental treatment with the highest net return and the untreated control was 1587 € per hectare (ha-1) in susceptible cultivars, but only 531 € ha-1 in moderately resistant cultivars. In addition, the mean difference in net return between all treated susceptible and all treated moderately resistant cultivars was 874 € ha-1. In the half of the field trials with the lowest maximum attack of PLB, the difference between the experimental treatment with the highest economic income and untreated control was 547 € ha-1, while it was 1571 € ha-1 in the half of the trials with the highest maximum attack.
The results for 2010-2013, which were all based on a short treatment interval of about one week between treatments, showed that in table potato the economic net return was highest at 100% and 75% of the recommended dose, whereas in starch potato cultivars it was highest at 50% and 25% of the recommended dose.
The net financial result was calculated for 13 different scenarios. As expected, potato price and potato crop yield and quality were of the greatest importance. The price of fungicides affected net profits by between 167 and 656 € ha-1 depending on treatment intervals and dose.
These results challenge the way in which late blight is controlled in conventional potato farming today, especially in starch potatoes. We, therefore, propose investment in future years be based on the dose-range response in cultivars with differing host resistance to both PLB and PTB, and on forecasting and warning with respect to PLB- and PTB-control in different potato cultivars. We believe that such an investment could be very valuable in optimizing the use of fungicides in potato cultivation.