3 things to consider when gearing up for next season
It’s never too early to start thinking about next season’s crop and how you can improve upon this year’s crop performance. Below, we have listed three important points to consider when selecting your site, which when selected well, will help to get your crop off to a great start.
1 - Rotation Crops / Weeds
Ideally, the area selected should not have had potatoes or solanaceous crops including tomato, pepper, eggplant or solanaceous weeds such as nightshade growing in the area for the last 5 years, if possible, in order to reduce disease carryover.
2 - Soil Type
Potatoes prefer soils that are well-drained, friable in texture and not prone to periods of waterlogging. The soil is a reservoir for water and nutrients through which air exchange between the soil and atmosphere must readily occur. If the soil is prone to waterlogging, then the roots system of the potato plant will be starved of oxygen, preventing the potato from being able to efficiently absorb either water or nutrients. It also won’t be able to prevent diseases that are associated with waterlogged roots such as pink rot.
Potatoes can generally tolerate a low soil pH range (between 5.5 to 6.5) however if the soil pH is less than 5.5 (in water), soil and plant aluminium levels may increase and limit yield and the soil pH could be adjusted (e.g. with lime). Be warned that if common scab (Streptomyces scabies) is a potential threat you may want to avoid the use of lime and fresh animal manures, instead try to maintain the soil pH between 5.0 and 5.2 (applications of sulphur has proved useful in reducing the level of scab in some soils of high pH).
3 - Herbicide Carryover
Potato crops can be quite sensitive to damage from herbicides that carryover from previous crops or pastures, for example, sulfonylureas (LOGRAN, Ally) or clopyralid (Lontrel) which are widely used on cereal crops and the residues of these herbicide can be very persistent in the soil. Potato crops are also susceptible to a number of herbicides that are either not registered for use in potatoes or can be affected by spray drift from herbicides applied to areas nearby. So, it is important to consider what crops or pastures may be near the site you have selected to grow your potato crops.
Be very mindful in the growing season of sprayer tank contamination which can also cause significant damage to your actively growing potato crop.
If you consider the three points above when determining your site selection, you can be more confident that you will be in the best position when the season kicks off again.