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Canopy establishment key to better disease, weed and heat management


Establishing a healthy and effective leaf canopy right from the start is essential for production of high potato yields.  

Potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrate requiring energy that must be produced over a short period.  Adequate crop canopy size and good leaf health are required to intercept sunlight and absorb CO2, driving the production of plant energy. 

Once the new shoots emerge from the soil, the developing leaves are the primary source of carbohydrate production. The importance or contribution of the mother tuber drops significantly.  Therefore, it is very important that new leaf tissue develops quickly, and tissue health is maintained to drive efficient energy production. 

Good early leaf growth is not only necessary for plant development, but it plays an important role in weed and disease management.  Shading of the ground surface helps to reduce weed germination and growth. Importantly, a healthy canopy reduces rain drop splash and minimises the distribution of disease such as early blight. 

The use and timing of preventative fungicides at key stages of growth reduces the risk of disease development and spread.

“It’s important to understand potential disease problems and what conditions promote infection, such as upcoming rain events,” said Dr Brandy Rawnsley, Syngenta Technical Services Lead.  

“Early application of fungicides before symptoms are seen is better than waiting until it is too late. Prevention is definitely better than cure.”    

Canopy establishment is influenced by different factors depending on the time of planting.  These factors include temperature, nutrition, disease and water availability. 

Cool conditions reduce nutrient availability and daily growth rates, which can increase the effects of disease attack. 

In later planted crops canopy establishment can suffer from heat stress.  During warmer growing temperatures, a well-developed canopy shades the soil which reduces soil temperatures. 

“This is important as root growth is reduced at temperatures 25 °C and above, and tuber yields are also dramatically reduced when temperature also increases” says David McRae, Yara Australia Agronomy and Crop Solutions Manager. 

Yara and Syngenta offer effective disease and crop nutrition solutions to support healthy crop establishment and drive yield. 

Plant tissue and petiole analysis are effective tools to monitor the crop’s nutritional status which allows the sufficiency of the current program to be assessed and highlights the requirement for additional nutrient input. 

This is article was jointly created by Syngenta and Yara Australia for the benefit of the potato industry.  

Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. In Australia, we are strongly focused on leveraging the best of our research and development (R&D) and agricultural technologies from around the world to deliver growers integrated solutions. 

Yara is the global leading premium fertiliser manufacturer and a provider of environmental solutions. Yara crop nutrition solutions and precision farming offerings allow farmers to increase yields and improve product quality while reducing environmental impact.