Fertilizing Potatoes

gltrap54April 27, 2014

Last soil test had my P & K much too high & my Ph @ 7.3........ Recommendation was for broadcasting & tilling in both sulfur (to lower the Ph) & Urea for fertilization at planting time, which I did......

That said, how should I fertilize my potatoes now that they've sprouted (ie, the ones that didn't rot in the ground)......... Would a side dressing of urea be OK at this juncture? I know excessive fertilization can add to leaf growth instead of tuber growth......

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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

First of, your pH is TOO high for potatoe for more than one reason.

Secondly; potatoes need a balanced fertilizer, rich in Potash. I would think that any general puprpose (1-1-1 ratio type) fertilizer is fine.

Thridly, you have to have a rich soil (already some fertilizers added to it) before planting.
REMEMBER that potato roots grow sideway and downward from the seeds you plant, NOT upward. So then that part of the soil should be fertilized NOT above it. The soil above the seed should be fluffy and well drained. That is where the stolons will grow . ONLY the roots draw nutrients and moisture from the soil. That is why fertilizing potato is different from, say its close cousin tomato.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 9:24AM
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Even fertilizer scratched into the surface gets carried down to roots by watering. That's why side-dressing works.

In this case, I see no reason to add fertilizer. Leave 'em alone - they'll be fine. After you've been growing spuds for a few years, you can start trying to tune in the fertilization.

Although with a soil pH like that, I don't think I'd bother with potatoes. Every rainfall with modify the pH away from where you want it to be.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 2:15PM
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Potatoes actually grow fine in slightly alkaline soil. It's the occurrence of scab that makes potato growth impractical in alkaline soil - the plants themselves grow fine. The scab organism thrives best between a pH of 6.5 and 8.0.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 3:50PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Isn't scab just a superficial problem? Aren't potatoes still good to eat with scab? I feel fuzzy on the subject, which is why I'm asking. Oh, and is it that scab decreases storagability?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:17AM
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Thanks folks for chiming in!

Well gee........ not sure I've made my OP clear..... My soil test showed very high levels of both Phosphate (370 with over 100 being high) & Potassium (640 with over 250 being high)..... The reason these two are so high is because I've added my (6-8) chicken's manure combined with pine shaving bedding. The pine shavings have very little N but lots of P & K sooo, there's not enough manure in the ratio.......

To correct this situation, I've tilled in prescribed amounts of Urea (no, I don't need a balanced fertilizer) as well as sulfur to lower my pH (by 1.5 points) before planting........

As for tilth...... After many years of adding organic matter, I've got some very mellow soil, but it's lacking proper nutrients (which I'm trying to correct).....

While scab is a big problem for commercial growers due to production concerns, it doesn't have the same impact for the home gardener........

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:37AM
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sunnibel7 you are correct! As I stated in my previous post, scab isn't a deal breaker for the home gardener.....

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:53AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I agree. I don't find scab a problem in 6.8 or so soil.

Handsome54 you sound like you know some of your stuff.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 10:52AM
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cugal(5b-6a NE Ks)

Thanks wayne_5! Although I've been a (sometimes successful) gardener for the bulk of my 60+ years, I wonder how I functioned without like minded folks here at GW!

OBTW........ Those spuds are looking pretty good & somewhere I read that a light side dressing of Urea should be applied just after they sprout & again before they flower...... I was hoping someone would concur......

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 4:07PM
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I always sprinkle urea around the plants just before hilling.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 5:52PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

You know I have the darnedest image in my head of men out in their gardens "sprinkling" a side dressing of "urea" on the potatoes... How fast would they have to move to get the whole row?? Sorry, it just popped into me head and I can't stop laughing...

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 7:04PM
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Sunnibel, why just men? I see - because they drink more beer.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:10PM
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Ronigers suggests molassas.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 8:20PM
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Ah -- so if they drink more molasses they'll be able to easily hit the whole row with the urea?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:09PM
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Having no idea..........

Couldn't help but Google ltilton's Ronigers........ Interesting fact from their website.........

"Potatoes grow best in
a soil pH of 5.0 - 7.5"

Guess my pH level doesn't eliminate growing potatoes after all........ ;)

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 9:54PM
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