The trade-off between planting potatoes more deeply or going more shallow will be examined as part of a new study at NIAB-CUF. “One of the conundrums potato farmers face is whether to go for the deeper option to minimise the risk of tubers greening or to opt for the higher yield potential of planting closer to the surface,” says Simon Smart of NIAB-CUF. “We will be looking to quantify the results and build up more data.” He explains when planting depth is changed the potato morphology normally adapts and changes accordingly.
“It is not the case of the seed potato being covered with more soil, because when the crop is planted more deeply the stem stretches out; as a result tubers can still develop close to the surface. “This new study will help us know whether the choice of planting depth is a useful management decision or if there are other, more important factors that determine greening.”
The research will start by looking at commercial crops and mapping the position of each tuber; plans for next year include assessing the effects of different ridge profiles and the hood pressure the planter puts on the ridge. “We may find that cracking of the ridge may be more important than other factors,” he says. “Nevertheless, there are lots of other factors that may influence greening, such as soil type, cultivation techniques and erosion from irrigation.” Experiments will be done in different soils across the country to capture a range of different soil types in Cambridgeshire, East Anglia and Staffordshire.
“We plan to look at the influence – if any – of variety as those with shorter stolons that form closer to the seed tuber are generally thought to be better. Studies undertaken in the US are indicating that there may be a varietal response, but there is little data as yet.”
Source: FG Insights