18 September 1998

Benefits of beds

FRENCH spud growers are being urged to use beds more widely, particularly for seed and salad crops.

"Tuber size is more consistent and quality is better," says ITCF agronomist, Pascal Desoubry. That in turn means less labour at grading, says the institute.

An additional benefit is reduced water loss early in the growing season, making irrigation onto bare soil less likely.

But the central row tends to throw smaller tubers, due to competition for light and soil nutrients. Overall tuber size is smaller too, he notes.

Further work by ITCF is investigating shallow planting of the central row, or placing fertiliser to compensate for the reduced nutrient effect. Clod separation during bed formation is also expected to bring previously unworkable soils into potato production, so lengthening rotations, it says. &#42