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Potato leaves brown-why?

Posted by mrsmoss NE (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 14, 12 at 11:44

I have two varieties of potatoes planted in potato towers. German Butterball and La Ratte. The towers are filled with compost/topsoil mix and straw. My leaves have started turning brown on the edges. I dug down in the straw and saw a lot of pill bugs. Are they the problem? What else could it be?


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 15, 12 at 12:44

I think they need more water because water probably runs right through the wire sides of your towers.

Try using some compost or used coffee grounds as mulch to retain more moisture. You could also try a layer of shredded paper or leaves if you've saved any from last fall. Dried grass clippings if they're not treated with any herbicide work well, too. (Dry them 1st on a tarp before you using.)

Straw makes it easy to harvest potatoes, but doesn't retain as much moisture especially in an upright wire sided tower.

Next year you might want to line the inside of the towers with cardboard to retain more moisture. It's not as aesthetic, but it helps them grow better. You could try growing potatoes in bottomless cardboard boxes set on the ground. We're doing it again this year and it's simple to set up though again a bit of a hillbilly look.


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

Thanks so much! I'll try watering more and I'm totally down with the hillbilly look. We'll have to try that next year.


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

Hmmm - anyone else think it looks like blight? La Ratte is susceptible.


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

Potatoes and tomatoes will spontaneously wilt the bottom leaves of a plant through the growing season, they cannibalize the lower leaves to give nutrients to the growing point. No matter how much fertilizer or water you have on the plants, they always seem to yellow and drop their lower leaves.

There are several university studies being conducted now on how to keep the lower leaves green all year, and if figuring out what makes the plants drop their bottom leaves will fix a nutrient deficiency that is not readily apparent in the plants.

No worries though, you've got nice looking plants that are acting normally.

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

I had something similar happen with my bagged potatoes (planted in potato bags this year). Turned out the issue was the dark green bags were out in full sun and the soil was getting way too hot. I moved them over closer to the house where they'd get more shade, and they bounced back nicely.


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

I am still sceptical that this is just natural yellowing or a watering issue. On my potatoes and tomatoes the first signs of blight look a lot like this. There's a pale yellow halo around the brown which is suspicious.


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RE: Potato leaves brown-why?

If they were mine, I'd be spraying them, just in case.


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