Update from Maine Potato Board Agronomy

Jake Dwyer

Spore Trapping

The spore trapping program is still ongoing and will conclude on September 23.  To date, no late blight spores have been detected from the 30 collection sites in Maine and New Brunswick.  Early blight spores have been detected throughout the season across the entire region with the highest counts detected earlier in the season (June 24-July 5) and throughout the month of August.  

Alternative Crop Field Day

The MPB and Northeast SARE sponsored an Alternative Crop Field Day that was held on August 15 at Buck Farms in Mapleton.  The focus of the field day was to highlight the progress of the Northeast SARE funded grant “Developing Best Management Practices for Pulse and Oilseed Crops in the Northeast”.  The $105,527.00 grant was awarded to the MPB in 2017 to investigate production practices for a variety of pulse and oilseeds that can be grown in potato cropping systems.  The 33 attendees toured several fields and research plots of field peas, sunflowers, canola, mustard, barley, and oats and heard from guest speakers including Martin Hochhalter from Meridian Seeds, Burton Johnson of North Dakota State University, and Ellen Mallory of The University of Maine Cooperative Extension.  Thanks to all that attended and thanks to the Buck family for their willingness to host!

Volunteer Potato Management

Harvest is time to begin a multi-pronged strategy for controlling volunteers in the future.  This is easier said than done, but with several recent winters with early snowfall and minimal ground freezing, the problem with volunteers is likely not going away.  

Removal of potatoes from the field is critical in reducing the potential for volunteers in subsequent years.  While this is a nearly impossible task, there are steps that can be taken to minimize tubers left in the field.  

  • Blades should be deep enough so they are not cutting tubers and leaving portions of them in the field.  
  • Chain gaps should be sized to remove the maximum numbers of tubers.  
  • Use optimal ratio of forward speed to chain speed to carry the maximum number of tubers from the field.  
  • Use care when loading trucks to avoid spillage.  
  • Ensure tubers are detached from stems so they are not carried off harvesting equipment.  Consider a desiccant that can aid in this process.

Frost is the most effective and economical tool to control volunteer potatoes.  Tubers left in the field should be allowed to remain as close to the soil surface as possible to expose them to cold temperatures; deep tillage should be avoided.  The following link is a useful resource for volunteer management and the information provided above was taken from it.  pnwpestalert.net › Vol_Potato_Ctrl_2005_WSU-USDA_EB_No_1993

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