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Paper of the Month July 2015

Yield levels of potato crops: Recent achievements and future prospects

Abstract

The potential yield of potato is defined as the theoretical yield that can be assessed for a well-adaptedcultivar, grown from the best possible seed under optimal conditions. More than in crops that are grownfrom generative seeds, the growth, development, yield and quality of the potato crop are strongly influ-enced by the quality of the seed tubers, including their genetic, physical and physiological quality andtheir seed health status. Potato is very variable in maturity type: late cultivars can intercept large quan-tities of light whereas early cultivars show more efficient resource use. We describe potential and actualyields as well as impact of climate change on these yields, based on simple, robust models. Potentialyields may be as high as 160 Mg ha−1, in production systems with abundant irrigation, high radiation lev-els and long seasons. In such systems, actual yields of above 120 Mg ha−1are feasible. However, potatois also grown as a short-cycle crop and in those conditions potential and actual yields are much lower.Potential yields might not change much in potato over time, but there is still a large gap between actualand potential yields to fill. The ratio between actual and potential yield ranges from 10 to 75%, but typicalvalues are between 30 and 40%, although they obviously depend on the level of input. These ratios allowgreat yield improvements provided inputs are economically feasible in practice and if climate changedoes not interfere. In most countries, yields of potato might increase by climate change, provided watersupply remains adequate. Main changes through climate change will probably occur by changes in thenumber of growing days per crop cycle. In some areas with abundant potato production, such as theIndo-Gangetic plains, however, climate change might reduce yield because of a reduction in number ofgrowing days, but it has been projected that the effects of climate change on potato will be regionallydiverse.

A.J. Haverkort, P.C. Struik (2015) Field Crops Research (online first 23 June 2015)

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