It’s that time of the year again time to make decisions on what varieties to plan. Perhaps you’re looking at new varieties but you’re not comfortable making the switch.
Mark Pavek, Washington State University researcher, has a couple of
suggestions for anyone growing new varieties.
“Pay attention at these conferences,” he said, “and see if their are new tips from the agronomists from the prospective states. See if there are any tidbits of information that might help produce better yields or better profits.”
As an example, Pavek cited research he and a graduate student conducted that disputes the notion that growers can cut back on the amount of nitrogen they use to maximize profits for Premier Russets and Alturas when grown in Washington’s Columbia Basin.
“There is no doubt that these two varieties are more efficient with nitrogen than Russet Burbank, Pavek said.
You could cut back on nitrogen and get a good return for these two varieties, but Pavek’s research indicates that they produce better economic return in the Columbia Basin if fertilized more similar to a Russet Burbank, between 325 pounds per acre and 375 pounds per acre total season nitrogen with approximately one-third applied pre-plant.
This is the third year of Pavek’s study, and based on this research, growers should not cut back on their nitrogen when producing Premier Russet and Alturas in the Columbia Basin.
Jeff Stark, chair of the horticultural science division at the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and LIfe Sciences, said he’s found different results.
“Alturas, as I recall, use about 40 percent less nitrogen than Russet Burbank did, and Premier was about 10 percent to 20 percent less and Classic was about 10 percent to 15 percent less. The only varieties that used similar amounts to Burbank in my trials were Western Russet and Highland Russet,” Stark said.
Pavek cautioned that this recommendation could create controversy in some circles.
He also said that researchers have seen some cases of black leg with Premier Russet, possibly because it is more susceptible to soft rot.
“Seed growers need to be extra careful on how they’re handling this
potato prior to storage,” he said.
Growers want to make sure that soil moisture and temperatures are conducive for fast growth with this variety, Pavek said.
“If they sit in the soil with cooler temperatures and don’t grow, they have a higher probability of rotting,” he said.
The Classic Russet seems to be gaining in popularity in Washington as well.
“We’re seeing an increase in production of Classic Russet,” Pavek said.
He recommended that growers go to the Potato Variety Management Institute (PVMI) website (http://www.pvmi.org) for Columbia Basin management recommendations.
Pavek said that this is one variety that growers can reduce the nitrogen on and that they need to adjust the in-row seed piece spacing compared to standard cultivars.
Stark said that three recently introduced varieties, the Classic Russet, the Alpine Russet and the Clearwater Russet, showed promising results and could fill individual roles for the industry.
Stark said the Classic Russet has great potential in the fresh sector with excellent culinary quality and taste characteristics.
“The Classic Russet were viewing as a potential replacement for the Russet Norkota,” Stark said. “It bulks up early, it can be managed as an early variety and it out yields Russet Norkota with a higher pack out than Norkotah.”
Stark said that with the Classic’s high bulking rate he recommends that growers space the seed eight to nine inches apart. If the spacing is greater, the potatoes tend to get too big.
In the processing sector, Stark said both the Alpine Russet and the Clearwater Russet have individual characteristics that should appeal to growers.
The Alpine has similar dormancy characteristics to a Russet Burbank but it out-yields the Burbank by 10 percent to 20 percent. The Clearwater is a smaller tuber but it shows excellent cold sweetening resistance, lower sugar buildup in storage and has shown potential for use in both process and fresh pack.”