Achieving a good ridge in potato crops

CULTIVATING to produce perfect potato ridges was the subject of a presentation by David Wilson of Standen Engineering and Matthew Smallwood, head of potatoes at SAC.

Mr Wilson described the range of machines available through his company, including a new stone separator. Mr Smallwood outlined the optimum bed size for ware potatoes - 12in (30cm) high and 50in (127cm) wide - and said achieving this set the requirements for preceding cultivations.

He cautioned delegates about over-working the soil with bed tillers, which in some cases last season had caused ridges to slump and made the potato harvest extremely difficult According to research carried out at the Co-operative’s pack house in Angus, greens were by far the biggest defect over the grader. Mr Smallwood recommended minimising the risk of greening by ensuring a 72in (183cm) bed width, 32in (82cm) rows and 14in (36cm) of flat top with tubers offset.

Increasing the ridge width led to colder soil and later emergence and may increase the risk of powdery scab and blackleg in a wet year, he said.

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