Research: Straw mulch increases potato yield and suppresses weeds in an organic production system

Related imageScientists at the Dept of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US grew late and early maturing potato cultivars under two organic management systems using straw mulch or mechanical cultivation for weed management. In a paper published in the journal Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, researchers Ruth K. Genger, Douglas I. Rouse, and Amy O. Charkowski say that it was found that application of straw mulch at emergence consistently increased total and marketable A-size yields for the late season cultivar Freedom Russet, and shifted the profile of marketable A-size tubers toward larger sizes. Increased yields were seen for the early season cultivar Dark Red Norland in some years, and may be related to amelioration of environmental stress by straw mulch. Mulch provided more effective control than mechanical cultivation for some broadleaf weeds. The researchers concluded straw mulching is a viable management option for organic potato production, with potential benefits for broadleaf weed management and tuber yield. More