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Potatoes account for about 1.05 million acres of crops grown in the United States, with Idaho as the country’s leading producer. On average, one acre of produces between 24,500 to 61,000 pounds of potatoes at harvest.  

A potato crop is very susceptible to nutrient deficiencies due to its shallow and fibrous root system, which results in a loss of crop quality and reduction in overall yield. The highest demand for nutrients occurs during the bulking growth stage, with 60% of total nitrogen being consumed during the tuber initiation and bulking growth stages. Potatoes use more potassium than any other nutrient, even nitrogen. Potassium plays a pivotal role in yield, quality, and storability of potatoes. Utilize a complete crop nutrition program to maximize crop quality and yield at harvest.  

Use the descriptions below to diagnose nutrient deficiencies in your potato fields.  

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nitrogen is mobile in the plant. Symptoms will appear as chlorosis first on lower leaves and stunted plant growth.
Phosphorus is responsible for capturing and converting the sun’s energy. Plants deficient in phosphorus are smaller with slow and stunted growth.
Potassium is mobile within the plant, causing deficiency symptoms to appear first in older leaves. Leaf symptoms appear as yellowing to necrosis on the outer edge of leaves.
Sulfur appears in every living cell and is important for photosynthesis. Plants deficient in sulfur will be stunted and pale green in color.
Calcium deficiency causes internal browning and hollow tubers.
The availability of zinc decreases as soil pH increases. Zinc aids in the synthesis of plant-growth substances and enzyme systems. Symptoms appear as yellow or bronze coloration of leaf edges and tips.

Additional Resources

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