Enhancing Potato Tuber Calcium Concentration Through Calcium Application May Reduce the Incidence of Internal Brown Spot and Hollow Heart

in HortScience
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  • 1 The Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison, Horticulture, 1575 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1590.

A direct comparison was made of several commercially available calcium sources applied on two different schedules for their effectiveness in increasing tuber medullary and periderm tissue calcium concentrations in 170–284-g tubers of the cultivar Atlantic grown on a Plainfield sandy loam. Plots (6 x 3 m) were arranged in a CR design in 1993 and a RCBD in 1994 (eight replications). Paired measurements of tuber Ca concentration and internal quality (±hollow heart, ±internal brown spot) were made on individual tubers produced in plots with no additional or additional Ca (168 kg Ca/ha) supplied from either gypsum, liquid calcium nitrate, or NHIB. Two Ca and N application schedules were compared: 1) application at emergence and hilling (non-split), 2) application at emergence, hilling, and 4 and 8 weeks after hilling (split). All plots received 224 kg H/ha balanced with ammonium nitrate. In general, tuber yield and grade were unaffected by treatments in 1993 and 1994, but overall percent A-grade was lowest and percent B-grade highest in 1993 compared with 1994 data. In 1993, all treatments receiving Ca had greater mean tuber medullary and periderm tissue Ca concentration values and a greater percentage of tubers with an elevated Ca concentration compared with non-Ca-supplemented controls. The overall incidence of tuber internal defects was 5% in 1993. All split schedule treatments receiving Ca showed 0% internal defects. In contrast, nearly 8% of the tubers from control plots showed some defect. The medullary tissue Ca concentration of 65% of the tubers having either defect was below the median value of Ca concentration for the entire experiment in 1993. Similar evaluations are underway for the 1994 crop. These data suggest that tuber calcium concentration may be related to the incidence of these internal defects.

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