August 28, 2014

Asian Potato Yields Suffer as Result of Inadequate K.

On the international stage, potatoes often don't get the same kind of attention that other crops do, even though they rank fourth in consumption (behind wheat, rice and corn). Potatoes provide an excellent source of human nutrition, but many parts of the world that need food the most are lagging in production.

One example is India. Potatoes are popular among the billion-plus people on the sub-continent, but the average potato yield for Indian growers is only about 157 cwt (17.6 metric tons per hectare)1, which is less than half of what U.S. growers produce.



According to botanists and other agricultural researchers in India, a large part of the problem is insufficient or unbalanced fertilizer, especially potassium2. In their report following a two-year study on Indian potato production, Drs. Shahid Umar and Mohammed Moinuddin stated, "Potato is a heavy feeder of K, but application rates in India are low. The crop commonly suffers from K deficiency leading to disease and pest problems, frost damage, poor yield, and reduced quality."3

As part of their study, the scientists added supplemental potassium to potato crops on several test fields, and the results were very impressive. In one instance, tuber yield increased 43 percent4.

In a separate report, Dr. S.K. Pandey – Director of India's Central Potato Research Institute – referred to the "wide gap between actual and potential production of potatoes in the region." In addition to fertility issues, he pointed to challenges such as declining arable land, blight epidemics, falling groundwater tables, lack of adequate cold storage and other factors5.

Potassium is an easy fix.

Some production problems are clearly more complex and harder to overcome than others, but adding fertilizer to the soil is a relatively simple step to enhance potato yields.

Of all nutrients, K is absorbed by potato plants in the greatest quantities, even more than nitrogen. Assuring proper levels of K can also help solve other problems, because potatoes with adequate potassium are better suited to withstand drought and stress.

Conversely, a choice of fertilizer can actually cause trouble. For example, if your potassium source is high in salt, you could risk damaging vulnerable young potatoes which are naturally chloride sensitive. Muriate of Potash (MOP) is 47 percent chloride, but Protassium+® is virtually chloride free, plus it has the added nutritional benefit of sulfate sulfur.

To learn more about the advantages of low-salt Protassium+, please call 1-855-308-3334. Or simply follow the adjacent links for additional helpful information.

1-4 “Effect of Sources and Rates of Potassium Application on Potato Yield and Economic Returns”; Better Crops International, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2001.

5 “Potato research priorities in Asia and the Pacific region”; Indian Council of Agricultural Research, 2008.