University of Idaho potato expert shares information on vine kill methods and timing

Long ago and far away, most potato growers relied on mechanical vine kill – flailing/chopping and rolling with heavy tires or other implements to break the stems, says Pamela J.S. Hutchinson, Associate Professor at the University of Idaho Aberdeen Research and Extension Center. Late blight and other reasons, such as need for faster kill, have changed grower practices, she writes. Now most of the industry relies on chemical vine kill or a combination of chemical and mechanical kill. Why concerns with late blight? Mechanical methods can break up vines into smaller pieces, sometimes still green, that are likely to remain in the field during harvest. In addition, although there’s not much, if any, hard data at this time to support the idea that late blight spores are distributed with this type of mechanical operation, recommendations are to NOT flail/beat/roll before vine-kill product application. So the question is, regardless of the threat of late blight in the area, does chemical vine kill w/ no mechanical provide enough reduction of plant material for efficient harvest? The answer, says Anderson, is yes! Read more