But micronutrient fertilization and management in potato production is complex and requires understanding the interactions between nutrients, soils, plants, fertilizer sources and distribution.
The Challenge with Micronutrient Rates for Potato Production
Compared to macronutrients and secondary nutrients, micronutrients are required in smaller amounts for proper crop performance. A study from the University of Idaho1 showed a 400 to 500 cwt/acre potato yield removes the following rates by nutrient:
- Iron - 2.8 lbs. acre
- Zinc - 0.2 lbs./acre
- Manganese - 0.3 lbs./acre
- Copper - 0.1 lbs./acre
- Boron - 0.18 lbs./acre
By comparing those removal values to recommended application rates, we see differences between the amounts required by the crop. For boron, most universities recommend one pound per acre of elemental boron or 455 percent more than the actual amount required by a 500 cwt/acre potato crop. In most cases, recommended rates are higher to account for source and distribution inefficiencies. For zinc, the gap is larger as recommended rates vary between one to 10 lbs. of elemental zinc per acre or 500 to 5,000 percent more than the actual amount required by a 500 cwt/acre crop. These types of applications can have unfavorable economic and agronomic effects like micronutrient toxicity.
For growers, the key to micronutrient management is not the total amount put into the crop, but rather the distribution, availability and efficiency of micronutrient fertilizers. These factors play crucial roles in the success and micronutrient uptake in potatoes.
Are Petiole Tissue Tests Enough to Manage Micronutrients in Potato Management?
In-season petiole tissue testing has become a common management tool in potato production. But this testing method is not an ideal approach for growers to manage micronutrients. While low micronutrient levels found via a tissue test can be addressed with a subsequent in-season application, damage may already be done and yield potential reduced. Some micronutrients, due to their chemical nature, are inefficient when applied in-season since they cannot be rapidly taken up by potato plants.
This makes tissue testing a good measurement tool but not an ideal management tool for micronutrient nutrition when it comes to in-season adjustments. You should use petiole tests to evaluate crop status and, in some cases, assist with making adjustments for future crops. But know this management strategy could lead to reduced yield potential that cannot be recovered even after in-season applications are made.
WOLF TRAX® can Help Manage Micronutrients in Potato Production and Provide Operational Efficiencies
When you need a micronutrient management strategy for potatoes, consider implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework to provide the right source, rate, time and placement of nutrients. For growers looking to maximize nutrition efficiency, utilizing innovative micronutrients such as WOLF TRAX® from Koch Agronomic Services (Koch) can help.
A solution that aligns with the 4R framework, WOLF TRAX features a dry dispersible powder (DDP®) technology that evenly coats onto dry fertilizer blends. This technology adheres to the dry fertilizer prill to provide a uniform distribution across fields and promote better root interception and increased nutrient uptake potential.
With the WOLF TRAX lineup of DDP nutrients, you can better meet the primary, secondary and micronutrients necessary for potato production. Each WOLF TRAX solution is formulated with dual action availability to deliver at least two forms of the mineral to your crop and provides the nutrition needed throughout the growth lifecycle of a crop.
Ask your local retailer how WOLF TRAX can provide agronomic micronutrient advantages to your potato crop or connect with your Koch representative today.