3 reasons to always mow the tops before harvesting potatoes
Mowing potato tops before harvesting is practiced by gardeners and large farms. This measure allows you to protect the culture from fungal infection, extend the shelf life and facilitate the process of harvesting the tuber.
Prevention of late blight
Potato tops can be contaminated with late blight. This is a fungal disease. It progresses especially actively in conditions of high humidity, thickened planting and excess nitrogen fertilizers. Signs of a culture disease with late blight:
- brown spots on the leaves;
- a gray bloom on the underside of infected foliage;
- rolling leaves;
- drying of the stems;
- blackening of foliage.
The first signs of infection are not always visible. Therefore, the best solution would be to mow the tops in advance so that late blight does not pass to the tubers. If they become infected, they will start to rot. Such potatoes cannot be stored for a long time.
Do not worry that the tubers will lose something. After all, they are actively formed due to greenery in the first month after flowering. And at the end of the summer, there is no longer any benefit from it.
After the tops are trimmed, the vegetables begin to receive less moisture. This is only good for them. The growth of tubers stops, but the skin of the potato begins to coarse. The dense peel helps to preserve the crop for a long time and protects the tubers during harvesting and transportation.
An additional bonus of tops trimming is the simultaneous ripening of the tubers.
Digging up potatoes without the tops is much easier. Hard stems do not fall under the shovel, do not get entangled in the forks. Mowing is especially important with mechanized harvesting methods.
When mowing or cutting the tops in gardens, hemp about 10-20 cm is left.
They will show you exactly where the tubers are and make it easier to pick potatoes by hand, making it easier to remove them from the ground. With mechanized harvesting, the stems are cut completely so that they do not interfere.
In farms, special equipment is used for mowing; for manual labor, a sharp knife, sickle, and scythe are used.
It is recommended to mow the tops 10-14 days before the expected harvest. During this time, the potatoes will ripen, the tubers will begin to separate more easily from the roots, so it will become easier to dig up. Overexposing the potatoes after trimming the aboveground part of the crop is not worth it.
It loses in mass, is affected by diseases, is stored worse.
If it rains, then without tops, the soil in the aisles will dry out faster, which will create more favorable conditions for harvesting. The potatoes are harvested before the first frost.
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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 rind 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 trees. Let's take a closer look at when to mow the tops of potatoes and why.
When to mow the tops of potatoes before harvesting?
When to mow the tops of potatoes before harvesting?
The main task of mowing the tops is to ensure the convenient operation of the potato digging machines, that is, this is an important part of mechanical harvesting. But also the tops are mowed to accelerate the ripening of the tubers. However, they do this not immediately after flowering, when the nodules have just begun to set, but 10-14 days before harvesting, when there is no particular sense from the tops, it begins to dry out and only takes on excess nutrients. This method is effective, but requires caution. Since the tops of potatoes at this time can become a source of infection of tubers with late blight, and immediately after mowing, the tops should be removed from the site. However, everyone's personal business, whether or not to mow the tops, I prefer to leave everything as it is before harvesting, there are just enough more important work during this period of intensive harvesting.
Do I need to mow the tops of potatoes after flowering. Pruning time
When to cut the tops of potatoes? Gardeners continue to argue about the timing of the pruning. There is a lot of disagreement on the topic of whether it is possible to cut the existing potato tops after flowering or should it be cut at a different time? Back in the middle of the last century, agronomical scientists practically proved that pruning is an excellent way to combat the degeneration of culture. Foreign gardeners carry out mowing 10-12 days after flowering. Our great-grandmothers did the same, crushing the upper parts of the plant with heavy rollers 1-2 weeks after the flowers appeared.
So when will it be possible to cut the tops of potatoes so as not to harm the crop? If you are growing tubers for seeds, then the aerial part must be removed in the budding phase. The sprouts are recommended to be removed 20-25 days after the bushes began to bloom. Then there will be an increase in young stems, and the harvest in the year of planting will certainly please.
The timing of trimming the tops of the plant in some sources is 7-8 days before the start of harvest, in others - 10-15. They vary depending on the cultivar. Early varieties are cut when 60-70% of the sprouts turn yellow. When to do the procedure for the late ones? Not earlier than 30 days after the plants began to bloom, and at least 3 weeks before the arrival of the first frost.
Can potato tops be trimmed immediately after flowering, sooner or later? This question does not arise in the presence of late blight. In this case, to save the harvest, they get rid of it immediately. The risk of developing the disease increases during fogs and morning growths in the fall. If these and other risk factors are present, the sprouts are removed for prevention.
Do I always need to trim the tops of potatoes? It happens that she dies off on her own. Then the harvest should be carried out within 3 weeks, otherwise the taste of the tubers will decrease, and the period of their winter storage will also be reduced.
How and what is the best way to mow potato tops?
If possible, it is highly desirable to do this. Two weeks before harvesting, the tops are mowed and harvested. This will avoid contact of the foliage infected with late blight and other diseases with the tubers (infections are usually transmitted this way). Also, mowing will effectively stop the further development and growth of potato tubers and will give the tubers the opportunity to build up a strong thick skin that will protect the potatoes from damage during transportation, such potatoes will be better stored.
You can mow in the garden obliquely, if there are very few plantings, then you can also use shears.
In large farms, the tops are mowed in a mechanized way.
The tops of potatoes can be mown 2 weeks before harvesting, when the lower leaves turn yellow. This is done so that the skin of the tubers becomes stronger and they are not damaged when harvesting potatoes. In addition, mowing the tops is emergency potato crop rescue from the spread of possible diseases, especially phytophthora, since regular dew, fogs, a decrease in the night temperature to +10 before harvesting increase the likelihood of damage to potatoes late blight.
If the site is solid in size, many advise you to choose benzotrimmer or brushcutter (however, this will result in a pretty penny).
Well, if the site is small, you can also use the usual oblique-Lithuanian.