The role of calcium in producing high-yielding and high-quality potatoes

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Calcium is an often overlooked and vital nutrient in potato production. Calcium helps improve cell wall structure, encourages root elongation, improves tolerance to environmental stresses, helps mitigate tuber quality disorders, and improves storage quality. Calcium is taken up by the plant in the third highest volume in potato production – after potassium and nitrogen. However, calcium, like all other nutrients in the soil, has to be soluble for the plant to utilize it. Unfortunately, even in the calcareous soils where many potatoes are grown, only about 0.5% of the calcium in the soil is soluble and only about 0.2% actually makes it to the plant for uptake. Without the addition of soluble calcium at critical times, potatoes can suffer from calcium deficiency resulting in reduced yield, quality, and storability. Calcium is not transported in the phloem to the tubers – it only enters the tubers when it is fed to the stolon roots. To provide a potato crop with the calcium it needs throughout the growing season and to get uptake into the tuber where it provides important quality benefits, a water-soluble source of calcium should be applied from tuber initiation to bulking. These applications “bathe” the tuber and stolon roots with available calcium and allow for greatest uptake into the forming tuber. 

When considering calcium sources for your potato crop, take into account the amount of calcium required, solubility of the calcium source, and other nutrients provided by the calcium source. Gypsum and ag lime are excellent products for soil amendment but the calcium in these products is highly insoluble and not available for potato plants to take up and use nutritionally. YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate provides 100% water-soluble, readily available calcium and nitrate-nitrogen for a high yielding potato crop and high-quality tubers. YaraLiva products also have the lowest carbon footprint of calcium nitrate products in the market.

For more information, contact Missy Schug, Senior Sales Agronomist at Yara North America, as or 269-207-0177.

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