How to properly trim the tops of potatoes and why you need it
Many farmers mow the tops of potatoes. Some do it to increase yields, others to fight disease. In any case, it is important to carry out the procedure correctly and use the resulting waste wisely. Timely cutting of the tops contributes to the accumulation of starch, thickening of the skin and an improvement in the taste of the tubers. Green mass is used in the garden as a source of nutrients and material for mulching fruit and berry trees. Let's take a closer look at when to mow the tops of potatoes and why.
The content of the article
- Why cut off the tops of potatoes
- How to properly trim the tops
- When to cut the tops
- Does potatoes grow after mowing
- The reasons for the intensive growth of tops
- What to do if the tops are high
- Using cut tops
Why cut the tops of potatoes
There are several reasons for removing potato tops:
- tubers ripen faster and receive more nutrients;
- drying of the soil in the aisles is accelerated;
- the skin of the potatoes becomes rough;
- the risk of late blight infection is minimized.
If the tops are not cut off, it is convenient to use it to determine the degree of maturity of the potato: before harvesting, summer residents watch that the green mass completely wilts.
How to properly trim the tops
Compliance with the recommendations during the procedure will have a beneficial effect on the quality of the crop.
How to remove potato tops:
- Cut off the tops with a sharp garden knife or scythe.
- The height of the root stem remaining after pruning should not exceed 15 cm.
- The procedure is divided into 2 stages: 3 weeks before harvesting, the tops are removed, after a week the stems are shortened.
- The cut grass is dried and used as fertilizer.
- Diseased leaves and stems are burned.
When deciding to resort to cutting the stems, it is important to consider the purpose of the further use of potatoes.
When using young tubers, mowing of the tops is not required. The tubers will grow thinner skinned and low in starch. For long-term storage of vegetables, you will need to remove the tops. In this case, the tubers will form a thick rind and accumulate starch.
It is interesting:
When to cut the tops
During bud formation and flowering potatoes feed with complex fertilizer "Aquarin" (10 g of the drug is diluted in 10 liters of water) or nettle infusion. This will allow the plants to accumulate nutrients, which, after the removal of the tops, will feed the tubers.
Nettle infusion is prepared one month before the planned use.
- 1 kg of leaves and stalks of nettle is chopped.
- The resulting raw material is placed in a bucket and poured into 10 liters of water.
- The bucket is covered with a lid, the mixture is left to ferment for 30 days.
- The infused composition is filtered through a sieve.
- Before use, the infusion is diluted with water in a ratio of 1:10.
Step-by-step scheme for processing potatoes:
- Before starting work, dilute the fertilizer according to the instructions.
- Pour the resulting composition into a sprayer.
- In the morning or evening, in dry, calm weather, treat the bushes: spray the leaves and stems from all sides.
- Repeat the procedure after 14 days.
It is optimal to trim the tops 30 days after flowering. The main prerequisite for starting the procedure is the stems that have turned yellow by more than 50%.
The exact timing of pruning is determined by the potato variety and weather conditions. The early varieties ripen in the second half of August, the late ones - in the middle of September.For the latter, pruning is carried out at least 21 days before the first frost.
Reference. If the purpose of growing bushes is to obtain seed tubers, the tops are cut 3 weeks after the end of flowering.
When affected by late blight, the tops are cut off immediately. This will prevent the spread of the infection to the tubers and soil.
Mowing in case of leaf damage
Disease of leaves and stems with late blight allows you to deviate from the rules and timing of pruning. Harvest save immediately when:
- leaf damage;
- cold nights, morning fog and dew.
Phytophthora on potatoes comes from the soil in which the mycelium with spores lives. With the alternation of drizzling rains and the scorching sun, phytophthora actively develops along with cool nights and morning dew.
Signs of the disease:
- dark brown spots on foliage, rapidly increasing in size;
- gray bloom on affected leaves;
- blackening of green mass, drying of the stems.
Harvested tops with signs of disease are taken from the site and burned.
Does potatoes grow after mowing
Removal of green mass entails a suspension of tuber growth.
At the same time, a number of useful accompanying processes are noted:
- vegetables store nutrients;
- the peel begins to harden;
- the soil in the aisles dries out.
If you mow the tops, will potatoes grow? Although the tubers will stop growing, they will be saturated with nutrients, and their keeping quality will increase during long-term storage.
The reasons for the intensive growth of tops
The large green mass of potatoes is characteristic of varieties with a low starch content. In other cases, this indicates an imbalance.
Timely identification of the reasons for the active growth of tops and the adoption of preventive measures will save the crop.
This is the most common cause of foliage growth. Excess nitrogen is formed from the abuse of mullein, humus, bird droppings, compost in spring and autumn as fertilizers.
The tops can grow if the planting material is chosen incorrectly. Tubers the size of a chicken egg are considered optimal. Large potatoes for landing will bring large tops, and not a rich harvest.
Interesting! For large areas it is convenient to use a potato topper.
There are many nutrients in large seed material. This allows the stems and foliage to feed from the mother tuber for a long time, slowing down the growth of roots and stolons.
Lack of light
Shade and partial shade lead to increased growth of green mass. With a lack of light, the plant stretches out in search of it, the stems become thin, the leaves become small.
Another reason for the lack of light is dense planting of tubers. In pursuit of high yields, farmers plant seed close to each other. The effect is the opposite: the tubers become smaller, the stems are stretched.
The optimal conditions for growing potatoes are warm sunny weather at + 22 ... + 26 ° C. If this temperature is accompanied by an abundance of rain, intensive growth of tops cannot be avoided.
What to do if the tops are high
If tall tops are not typical for a variety, this is cause for concern.
- Excess nitrogen is removed by reducing nitrogen fertilization (compost, humus, etc.) and increasing phosphorus. A superphosphate solution is well suited (100 g of the drug is diluted in 10 liters of water). The finished composition is abundantly sprayed on the bushes in the morning or evening in dry weather.
- With a lack of lighting, it will be possible to solve the problem for the next season. It is recommended to reconsider the landing site, optimum sunny location.
The tops are low
Low tops are not a reason to worry if the characteristics of the variety do not imply its growth. It's another matter if diseases are the reason for the low green mass of potatoes.
Black scab (rhizoctonia) affects all parts of the plant. Black growths or depressed dark spots are visible on the tubers.In warm and humid weather, a whitish bloom (dry rot) appears on the stems. The leaves curl at the top, and airy green tubers grow in the axils.
Prophylactic measures are calcining the seed in the sun until a green shade appears and later planting in the ground. Treatment of infected bushes is determined by the phase of their growth. With growing stems, plants are watered with a liquid mullein (500 g is diluted in 10 liters of water, 0.5 liters are consumed per bush). In the flowering phase 2 tbsp. the mullein is bred in 10 liters of water, 0.5 liters of the composition is added under 1 plant.
Brown bacterial rot manifested by wilting of leaves. The foliage becomes greenish-bronze, then curls and falls off. The stems turn brown and rot at the base. The tubers have whitish rings in the cut. When pressed, viscous brown mucus is released from them.
Methods for the destruction of brown rot are ineffective. They fight the disease with a complete renewal of seed material, timely weeding (every 2 weeks), adherence to the rules of crop rotation. The best predecessors of the culture are cucumbers, cabbage, legumes, pumpkin seeds.
Fluoride deficiency is indicated by a purple ring on the cut of a young tuber. Replenish nutrient deficiencies with superphosphate. For this, 100 g of the drug is dissolved in 1 l of water, left for a day, then another 9 l of water is added. The resulting solution is poured into a spray bottle and a single spraying is carried out in the morning or evening in dry weather.
Using cut tops
The removed green potato mass is used in household plots as mulch, ash, compost.
Important! For these purposes, take healthy tops, without signs of disease.
Mulching is carried out in late autumn. The trunk circles of fruit trees are covered with a layer of tops, 50–75 cm away from the trunk. For young plants, a mulch thickness of 5–6 cm is sufficient, for adults - 8–10 cm.
To prepare phosphorus-potassium fertilizer, the tops are burned in an iron barrel. The resulting ash after cooling is collected in a dry container, covered with a lid and stored in a dry place.
Ash is brought in when digging a site in spring or autumn (100-200 g per 1 m²) or add 1 tbsp. l. in the holes before landing.
Compost is prepared in a box, trench or heap according to the following scheme:
- The place is chosen shady, away from buildings.
- At the bottom, 20 cm of peat or leaves are poured, on top - 2-3 cm of earth.
- Then 15–20 cm of tops are laid.
- Fall asleep all 3 cm of earth mixed with ash. Add 2 tbsp to a bucket of soil. l. ash.
- Materials are alternated until the pile is 1.5m high.
- To speed up the process, each layer of earth is watered with 1 liter of slurry.
- Lay out 5 cm of peat or earth on top.
- In dry weather, the pile is watered, during the rains, covered with foil.
- The maturation time of compost is from 6 months to 2 years. Readiness is determined by the smell of earth and a loose brown mass.
The compost is used before planting: it is added immediately to the wells, 1 liter for each or during digging (1 bucket per 1 m²).
It is important to cut the tops on time, on average 30 days after flowering. Greens are not thrown away, but usefully used as fertilizer in the garden.
If you correct the mistakes of agricultural technology, leading to the active growth of green mass, the crop can be saved. So, there will be no high tops if the place for planting is sunny, the distance between the tubers is 40-50 cm, and manure is used as top dressing once a year, in spring or autumn.