Irrigation and seed piece spacing effects on potato seed-tuber yield
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The seed potato industry is the most rapidly growing sector in the horticultural industry in Saskatchewan. The phenomenon of ‘Northern Vigour’ and the reduced levels of tuber-borne diseases and pests on the prairies make the Canadian prairies, including Saskatchewan, producers of high quality seed potato. This is reflected in the increasing exports of seed potato to the USA, Mexico, and other markets. In Saskatchewan, seed potatoes are grown both under dryland and irrigated conditions. Small tubers are preferred as seed potato relative to processing or table stock. Cultural practices suited to produce maximum yields of seed grade tubers (30-80 mm diameter tubers) are different from producing larger table or processing potatoes (>45 mm diameter tubers). The effects of moisture stress vary among cultivars. The different growth and tuberization characteristics of potato cultivars can further complicate management considerations such as fertility practices, plant population, etc. With steadily increasing input and other production costs, it is essential to develop appropriate, cultivar(s) specific, management practices to produce high quality (physiologically vigorous and disease-free) seed potato and to maximize economic returns. The Saskatchewan Irrigation Development Centre (SIDC) and the Department of Horticulture Science, University of Saskatchewan are jointly developing management practices to optimize yields of high quality seed potato. This project includes cultivars targeted for both domestic and export markets. Various aspects such as, land preparation, fertility requirement, seed piece spacing, irrigation scheduling, seed piece form/type, and plant population are being studied. This paper summarizes data from preliminary studies conducted during 1994 and 1995 at SIDC designed to examine irrigation and in-row seed piece spacing effects on seed grade tuber yield.
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