Tuber initiation and development are processes basic to potato production and are particularly critical in areas with short growing seasons. It is important to know how and to what extent management decisions affect these processes in order to maximize the yield of marketable tubers. A two-year field study, conducted in southcentral Alaska, examined top growth, tuber initiation, and tuber development in eight potato cultivars grown with and without irrigation. Plants of the cultivars Allagash Russet, Bake-King, Green Mountain, Kennebec, Lemhi Russet, Russet Burbank, Shepody, and Superior were harvested weekly throughout the growing season, and top dry weight, numbers of tubers, and individual tuber fresh weights were recorded. Top dry weight was reduced by moisture stress shortly after emergence in 1993, and about one month following emergence in 1994, when early-season soil moisture was greater. The weight of tubers was similarly affected within approximately 5 wk of emergence in 1993 and 6 weeks in 1994. Tuber weight at harvest was increased two- to three-fold by irrigation in all cultivars. The number of tubers each plant set was affected by irrigation in most, but not all, cultivars. Some varieties (Lemhi Russet in 1994, Allagash Russet both years) set more tubers than were maintained through the growing season. Tuber remnants found during sample collection indicated that tuber reabsorption had occurred. Irrigated Green Mountain had more than one tuber initiation period during the season, whereas other varieties such as Shepody maintained a relatively constant number of tubers following initial tuber set. Tuber size distribution at the end of the growing season showed that larger tubers were favored by irrigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science