Seed World

Hutton Confirms Extension of ‘Fight Against Blight’ Funding for 2024 Season

Late Blight. Photo: James Hutton Institute

The James Hutton Institute will continue in its role to help protect Britain’s potato crop against late blight after further funding was secured.

Secured funding will allow the Hutton to maintain its ongoing monitoring and testing work as part of the Fight Against Blight (FAB) scheme.

The FAB scheme, initiated in 2006, leverages a nationwide network of agronomists, growers, and industry representatives known as the FAB Scouts to monitor Phytophthora infestans populations, according to a press release. Each year, this network submits up to 1,500 field samples from suspected late blight outbreaks across Britain. Under the leadership of Dr. David Cooke and Dr. Alison Lees from The James Hutton Institute, the initiative encompasses annual sampling of late blight outbreaks, characterization of pathogen populations, and fungicide sensitivity testing on industry-prioritized active ingredients.

“The continuation of FAB is great news for growers and the sector more widely, and also for the longer-term research effort that supports this area,” said Dr David Cooke.

“With concerns about resistance to CAA and OSBPI fungicides in new genotypes reported on the continent last year, the early detection of any new arrivals to GB crops is going to be crucial to building effective IPM programs for 2024 potato crops.”

Late blight has already been reported this year in Jersey and Kent. Wet winter conditions and unharvested crops have created additional sources and pathways for the disease. Moreover, the discovery of genotype EU43 in Ireland in 2023, a novel Phytophthora infestans genotype resistant to a key fungicide, has raised concerns about potential inoculum spreading from the west into early crops in Great Britain.

Crucially, it is the testing of these outbreaks which allows for the rapid in-season identification of genotypes, the release notes. This, in combination with an end of season report, ensures the potato industry is kept well-informed on emerging threats, as well as best-practice for late blight management.

Dr Jonathan Snape, Director of James Hutton Limited, stressed the importance of industry leaders coming together to help in the continued fight against potato blight across the UK.

 “Without the essential contributions from this cross-sector consortium it would simply not be possible to continue the nationwide monitoring of emerging genotypes at a time when it is needed most,” Snape said.

“As such, we thank the following organisations for their sponsorship and continued support of Fight Against Blight; Certis Belchim, UPL Ltd, BASF, Bayer, Corteva, Syngenta, Albert Bartlett, Agrovista, Frontier, Hutchinsons, GB Potatoes, McCain, Scottish Agronomy, The Seed Potato Organisation, Agrico, Branston, SAC Consulting and Agrii.”

Registered FAB Scouts will have already received their sampling packs and the FAB website is live at where people can access a record of all outbreaks since 2017.

The FAB scheme is a great example of genuine cross-sector collaboration, but it does rely heavily on continued support from the wider industry. So should you, or your organisation, wish to become a scout or key sponsor, please contact