Cat no. 48

Potato Blight

Running time16:11 Black & White Sound 1943 Fenland and elsewhere

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A public information film for farmers regarding potato blight.

Genre:

AgriculturePublic Information Film

The film opens with a cutting from the Gardeners' Chronicle dated Saturday August 23 1845, concerning the outbreak of potato blight, and a brief account of its subsequent history. The film shows the effects of the potato blight in a crop where approximately 30% of the crop were affected by blight. The film illustrates the signs of disease in the plant and in the potato tuber. In a sequence using time lapse photomicrography the growth of the fungus that causes potato blight is shown. The film then shows how potato blight is spread.

The next sequence of film, headed 'Sources of Infection' shows the farmer how to prevent the spread of potato blight. In this sequence are interesting details of farming methods during the war. Men are shown riddling potatoes by hand as well as burying severely diseased stock and using less affected stock as pig feed. Farm workers are shown using a horse drawn plough and also hoeing and scything by hand. The identification of the boxes of seed potatoes suggests that this film is made around Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

The section headed 'Protection of the Tubers' explains the importance of good earthing up. This section also contrasts new technology in farming with less mechanised methods. We see a tractor pulling specialist machinery followed by a horse drawn plough. Contrasting the primitive nature of farming mid-century with industrial technology, this shot shows a modern factory. The section 'Protection of the Haulm' shows various methods of spraying and dusting. This sequence shows a horse drawn sprayer, the same equipment drawn by a tractor, a pump sprayer mounted on a horse and cart and Land Girls using a knapsack sprayer. The alternative method of dusting in dry areas is also illustrated, again showing how this can be done by both tractor and horse.

The section 'Precautions at Lifting Time' shows harvesting by an advanced potato harvester and by hand. The potatoes are turned up by horse plough and manually lifted. Many women workers are shown in this sequence as well as children. The film finishes by showing clamping and the precautions needed to protect the piles of potatoes during storage.

The Ministry of Information

The Realist Film Unit

Rosanne Hunter

John Taylor, Edgar Anstey; A Realist Film Unit Production

C Phillips

Percy Smith (photomicography); Dr. W.A.R Dillon Weston (advisory micoligist)

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