Key Considerations for Potato Farmers: The Importance of Crop Rotation

When making decisions about how to achieve optimal product and yield, many potato growers turn to crop rotation. This method has proven time and again to help growers manage diseases that might affect their crop.

“If you continually grow potatoes on the same ground, you’re going to get buildup of diseases that could lead to yield or quality problems,” said Curtis Rainbolt, Technical Service Representative at BASF. “You’re going to see benefits from planting a crop that isn’t a host for the same diseases potatoes are prone to.”

If a grower rotates from a broadleaf crop susceptible to many of the same diseases as potatoes to a grass crop that is not so susceptible, then Rainbolt’s advice rings especially true.

Whether growers decide to grow a broadleaf crop like sugar beets or a grass crop such as corn, it’s important for them to have diversity in their operation. “The more diversity you have in your rotation, the more you’re going to lower the disease pressure,” said Rainbolt.

“It’s not just diseases either,” he explained. “Rotating through different crops breaks up the lifecycle of pests like nematodes and helps fight off weeds.”

Aside from diseases and other pests, crop rotation can also help balance nutrient levels in the soil. After harvesting a potato crop, there may be a lot of nitrogen left over in the soil. Growers should consider planting a crop like wheat that has a better root system and can extract the excess nitrogen, suggests Rainbolt.

Proper Protection
Although crop rotation helps with disease management, growers still need to be cautious when following certain crops. This year, growers planting potatoes after a dry bean crop need to be cognizant of issues with white mold.

“If you’re following dry beans with potatoes make sure you get in there with Endura® fungicide early and set the foundation for white mold control,” said Rainbolt. Another way growers can be proactive in protecting their crop is by applying a fungicide in-furrow. He recommended using Priaxor® Xemium® brand fungicide, especially for combatting the fungus Rhizoctonia. “Getting in there at planting with the fungicide is a good way to manage diseases,” advised Rainbolt.

It’s important for growers to think about how crop rotation could benefit their operation and which crop protection products can help them achieve their goals. Growers can find more information about crop protection products to aid them in disease management at www.agproducts.basf.us.

Always read and follow label directions.

Endura, Priaxor, and Xemium are registered trademarks of BASF.