An Idaho potato farmer believes he can cut back on his use of fumigation by raising two specific commercial crops â€” oriental mustard and a promising new spud variety called Clearwater Russet.
John Oâ€™Connell reports in the Idaho State Journal that Ritchey Toevs is one of 17 Idaho growers raising oriental mustard for American Falls-based Mountain States Oilseeds. The same chemicals that make mustard spicy, glucosinolate and isothiocyanate, also serve as a natural fumigant, controlling harmful nematodes in his soil.
Toevs has also found he doesnâ€™t need to fumigate potato fields prior to planting Clearwater, which was initially crossed in Aberdeen and has moderate resistance to verticillium wilt, which is spread by the root-lesion nematode, according to O’Connell’s article.
â€œ(Oriental mustard) looks like a good crop,â€ Toevs said. â€œItâ€™s not as profitable as wheat, but if we can get a benefit in soil health â€” if we do not need a fumigant the next year â€” it would be competitive with small grains.â€
Some growers plant a special fumigant mustard variety with higher levels of the beneficial chemicals following wheat harvest. The mustard is then tilled into the soil.