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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Volunteer Potato Management in the Pacific Northwest Rotation Crops

Authors
item Steiner, C - SYNGENTA CROP PROTECTION
item Newberry, G - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV
item Boydston, Rick
item Yenish, J - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV
item Thornton, R - WASHINGTON STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Extension Publications
Publication Type: Other
Publication Acceptance Date: March 1, 2005
Publication Date: June 1, 2005
Citation: Steiner, C.M., Newberry, G., Boydston, R.A., Yenish, J., Thornton, R. 2005. Volunteer potato management in the Pacific Northwest rotation crops. Washington State Extension Publications, EB1993, p 12.

Interpretive Summary: Volunteer potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are a prevalent weed in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and other potato production areas of the world. Field surveys have shown that 25,000 to 186,000 tubers per acre are left in the soil following a commercial potato harvest. In areas where winter soil temperatures are not cold enough to kill tubers left in the field, serious weed problems occur. In the PNW, volunteer potato is a problem in alfalfa, beans, carrots, corn, onions, peas, potatoes and wheat. They are especially damaging in non-competitive crops with few effective management options. In addition to being a competitive weed, volunteer potatoes harbor insect pests, nematodes and disease, which partially negates the benefit of crop rotation. Volunteers may also contaminate potato seed production fields, rendering them useless as seed. While measures have been developed to help manage volunteer potato populations, research and experience have proven no single method capable of reducing volunteer populations to non-competitive levels. It is best to integrate multiple measures and use a holistic approach for volunteer potato management. This bulletin provides current information for volunteer potato management in the PNW. Biology and ecology of the weed, its burden to production systems, and potential management strategies are discussed.

Technical Abstract: Volunteer potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are a prevalent weed in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and other potato production areas of the world where mild winter temperatures fail to kill tubers left in the ground after harvest. From 25,000 to 186,000 tubers per acre are left in the soil following a commercial potato harvest and tubers buried deeper than 5 to 8 cm routinely overwinter. Volunteer potatoes harbor insect pests, nematodes and disease, which reduces many of the main benefits of crop rotation. Volunteer potato is a problem in alfalfa, beans, carrots, corn, onions, peas, potatoes, sugarbeets, and wheat and are especially damaging in non-competitive crops, such as onions and carrots, in which few effective management options are available. While control measures have been developed to help manage volunteer potato populations, research and experience have proven no single method capable of reducing volunteer populations to non-competitive levels. Several effective volunteer potato control options are available in field corn and sweet corn that help reduce the problem in the next crop. Best control of volunteer potato has been realized when a holistic approach using multiple control measures has been implemented. This bulletin provides current information for volunteer potato management in rotation crops, information on the biology and ecology of the weed, and problems associated with the weed in crop production systems.

Last Modified: 8/1/2014
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