Potato planting be patient

05 May 1998

Potato planting — be patient


POTATO planting is well down. Only 35,000ha have been planted compared with 107,000ha last year because of the recent rains and low temperatures. What should growers do?


Dr Mike Storey, Research and Development, British Potato Council, Oxford

Answer One

PLANTING is well down on last year, but remember 1997 gave potato growers an exceptionally early start, so dont panic.

Be patient and wait for soils to dry out. The penalty of forcing wet soils is too great; growers risk compaction and soil slumping wiht the consequences of poor emergence, crop growth and final yield. Theres a risk of `little potato disorder when soil conditions are wet and cold.

If the weather remains cold and wet changes to fertiliser policy may have to be made. But its a fine balance between mineralisation, which will be slowed by the cold weather, and rainfall leaching out some of the nutrients as well as the crops requirement.

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