Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Set Up for Success

While going through the history of our blog we discovered that we had more visits to the blog post concerning skin set on potatoes than any other. We decided it’s time to revisit that blog but also post a new one on what it takes to set up a potato crop for good skin set.

The process of skin set, the thickening of the outer-most cells on the potato, is a natural occurrence when the potato plant has completed the movement of sugars from the leaves to the tubers. It is part of the maturing process that will keep the tuber from degrading during storage. This all seems like an easy task but in the Skagit Valley skin set can take several weeks after the plants have died.

A few things can be done early in the plant development to help the maturing process:

1.     Do not apply nitrate forms of nitrogen early in the plant’s development. This has a negative effect on the plant by pushing top growth and reducing root development.

2.     Get as much calcium, boron, silica, and magnesium into the plant as possible. Start early and go long! These elements will enhance cell wall strength, reduce stress, and increase photosynthesis all of which are critical to keep plant top growth in check.

3.     If at all possible, use a water surfactant pre-plant and during the growing season to move both irrigation and rain more efficiently. We have been using a product called Integrate 80 with a great deal of success. It will move water both vertically and horizontally creating a better water distribution path.

These are a few ideas that you can try to help your potatoes achieve a stress-free crop. If you follow through with these three ideas and use the finishing program, also posted, I’m confident you will be satisfied with the end results.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Gathering of Potato Growers

We attended the Washington-Oregon Potato conference in Kennewick, WA, on January 24th and 25th to learn from some of the best growers and researchers in the industry.

Did you know that the combined acreage of potatoes for Washington and Oregon amounts to 20% of the nation’s total? Washington alone grows about 170,000 acres per year with Oregon in at 40,000 acres. The vast majority of the crop is grown on the east side of the Cascade mountain range so, naturally the majority of the research has east side growing conditions in mind. But that still doesn’t mean that we “westsiders” didn’t glean some valuable information from the conference.

Topics such as using hormones to break seed piece dormancy and balance the amount of stems per hill was very interesting. We (the west side) have been doing this for some time but they (the east side) are on the right track. Also the appropriate amount of nutrients to use was very important. Farmers are some of the best stewards of the land on the planet so they are always concerned about using the right amount of the right nutrients for their crop.

Overall, it was very informative and we look forward to sharing that information with the growers of Skagit County.