While a bit on the early side, several potato growers across the region are already moving dirt, and planting for the season. Tim Waters with WSU Extension says soil temperatures and moisture level as on par for where they should be this time of year. A far cry from the soggy conditions we experienced last year. But he said while it may be easier to get out in the field this spring, soil temperatures are still cool, so growers need to be mindful of soil born fungi.
“Because when the soil temperatures are cool, it takes longer for the plant to germinate, longer to get out of the ground. And once that plant starts to grow it’s going to be able to defend itself, or protect itself better from some of these pathogens. So, when you plan under cool, wet conditions, it takes the plant longer to get going, and then the window of susceptibility is longer for some of these diseases.”
What other advice does Waters have for those already planting?
“When you plant early, you have to make sure you have the right protectants on the crop seed peace treatments are important for fungal and insect issues, so seed peace treatments or in furrow seed treatments are really important with these early plantings when it takes the plants a little bit longer to get going.”
At last report, soil temperatures across the Columbia Basin are in the upper 40s, with some locations reporting low 50s.
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