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Potash is a very important input for potatoes affecting yield, quality and profitability. This leaflet reviews earlier and new information available on this topic. It provides guidance on best practice for potash use where crops are being produced for different markets, for different anticipated yields and where the crop is grown on different soil types.
Importance of potash for potatoes
Potash (potassium, K) is an essential nutrient for all plants and has a
major effect upon yield and quality of potatoes
as well as the general health and vigour of the crop. It is involved in
regulating the amount of water in the plant; in
the absence of sufficient potassium crops do not use water efficiently.
Also adequate K levels in the plant help it to
withstand water stress during periods of drought. Potassium plays a vital
role in maintaining the turgidity (rigidity) of
plant cells. Because of its importance in turgor maintenance, potassium
is essential to obtain maximum leaf
extension and stem elongation. This helps to achieve rapid ground cover
so maximising interception of sunlight and
There is little doubt that crops deficient in potash are less able to handle stress caused by drought, waterlogging, frost, heat, wind, etc. However, it appears that there is no advantage to gained from applying larger amounts of K than those justified for yield or replacement requirements. Whilst yield variation will occur according to the growing conditions in different years, smaller yields in "poor" years can be minimised by ensuring an adequate potash supply.
Potash shortage leads to:
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