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The current potato production system relies mainly on vegetative propagation through seed tubers. The physiological age (the physiological state of the seed tuber which influences its productive capacity) is crucial for the growth vigour of seed tubers and subsequent crop development and yield. In practice, planting physiologically older seed tubers is known to develop earlier canopy growth with a shorter growing period, and planting younger seed tubers results in slower canopy development with a longer growing period. However, due to its high complexity and variability across years, there is a lack of clarity and adequate information on the effect of physiological age. This hinders producers making a good planning of storage and planting, and contributed to recent problems of poor crop establishment and yield, both in the Netherlands and abroad.
We use potato cultivars of contrasting maturity types and different rates of physiological ageing of seed tubers and store them at different temperatures (the main factor for physiological aging) during the winter. At late spring, the seed tubers will be planted at multiple experimental field sites in the Netherlands, featured by sandy soil, sandy-clay soil, and heavy-clay soil. Throughout the growth season, canopy development (soil cover) will be monitored on a weekly basis. Data of tuber growth (yield) will be collected at important timings: emergence, tuber initiation, intermediate harvest, and final harvest. The effect of physiological age of seed tubers on crop performance and yield will be studied by data analysis and modelling.