Late planting and slow emergence of potatoes in cold wet conditions could leave crops exposed to the effects of stress at tuber initiation, warns Syngenta’s Andy Cunningham.

“Research has shown that tuber initiation is a key stage for when potato plants can be impacted by stress. That could be further compounded this year if it coincides with the onset of warm weather in late May or early June,” he explains.

According to Andy, studies suggest applying a biostimulant at tuber initiation can help to reduce stress in potato plants.

Quantis biostimulant

As a result, he recommends applying Quantis (amino acids and peptides) when the first tuber set is at, or before, small pea size. “This is a critical time for the potato plant’s development, as they are particularly sensitive. Weather conditions and temperatures at this timing will largely dictate how many tubers will be produced, and subsequently supported through to yield.

“Using all of the tools available, including nutrition, irrigation, blight protection and biostimulants will help to alleviate stress,” he adds.

Crop research at the James Hutton Institute suggests temperature has a pronounced effect on the formation of potato tubers and that when temperatures are too high, potato plants form less or no tubers which can greatly decrease yields.

Stress response

Quantis has been shown to adapt the hormone pathways that govern a potato plant’s response to temperature stress, thereby enabling it to continue to function more efficiently and make better use of light and resources for growth, says Andy.

“Growers should be prepared to apply Quantis at tuber initiation, ideally at a timing where it can be tank mixed with a blight spray treatment,” he comments.

Andy advocates growers and agronomists continue to track temperatures through the growing season to allow Quantis applications prior to heat stress as crops develop. He says trigger points in potatoes are flagged when leaf temperature exceeds 25⁰C for more than three hours per day, or above 30⁰C for any length of time.