“My Father-in-Law, let’s call him Joe – because that’s his name – is a great sports fan,” writes Jimmy Ridgway, Crop Manager, Potato – Yara North America, in the latest Top Potato newsletter. “He enjoys all kinds of sports, but he is especially a student of baseball. One of the things he’s taught me is the old idiom you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.
The same is true about the nutritional status of your potato crop. We can watch the crop grow all day long and even though we can notice things from a macro-view, without a good regimen of sampling we will probably not know what is really going on in the crop.
Soil and tissue sampling gives us the scorecard we need to really understand what is going on and to help us better manage the “players”.
Soil sampling gives us a snapshot of the amounts of mineral nutrients that are physically found in the soil; they can be measured in pounds or parts per million (PPM) of N, P, K and so on.
In potatoes the reference standard tissue analysis is weekly petiole sampling. Weekly samples show nutrient trends in the crop and can help to identify potential instances of “Hidden Hunger” before deficiencies rob your crop of yield and quality.
There are certain steps we can follow to make sure that our petiole sample gives us a consistent and representative analysis as to what is going on across the field.