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Oct 7, 2009

Potato Europe 2009: Saving on Potash simply doesn’t pay!

Potato Europe 2009 was for K+S KALI GmbH a very interesting discussion panel to exchange experiences with potato growers. We were delighted to welcome over 40 different nationalities at our stand in Emmeloord, in the Netherlands.

2009 – Potato yield with deterioration of quality caused by potassium deficiency

If we think about Western Europe, then 2009 will be cast in stone as a special year and the potato harvest will be remembered through loss of quality both prior to and during storage. In many areas of Europe, a particularly dry summer with above average sunshine hours was partly to blame, but in a many cases, quality problems were exascerbated by the reduced use of mineral fertilisers, in particular potash. Pricing appears to be the principal reason why use of potash fertilisers was at a reduced level.

Jaap Brink (pictured left) and Wim Pacolet (pictured right) from K+S Benelux in discussions and consultations with visitors at Potato Europe 2009

Potassium regulates water balance of plants – and mitigates the extreme weather conditions

From conversations with representatives of the processing industry we could conclude that the extreme weather circumstances firstly caused problems during lifting (in particular black spot) and also had a negative impact on the yields per hectare.


It is during such drought conditions that the role of the essential element potassium becomes more important than ever. Where the correct rate of potash was used and where the crop could find sufficient supplies through the soil, problems with excessive small tubers crops and extremely high underwater weights were considerably reduced.


Potassium after all, has a positive effect on the sensitivity to black spot and the ions chloride (Cl-) as well as potassium (K+) reduce the underwater weight. As known, there is a significant relationship between the percentage of potassium in the tuber (target value min = 1,9 %, optimum = 2,5 %) and the underwater weight. It is vital to maintain the level of potassium within the tuber which can only be guaranteed by applying sufficient potash. The underwater weight needs to be kept under control.

Potassium moderates drought stress

Potassium increases the crops’ resistance against stress (drought in particular) and keeps the efficiency of water management to its maximum.


Especially these two phenomena were important in 2009 and will be in the coming years.


K+S KALI does realise that potash fertilisation within the potato crop is an important cost factor, but growing without sufficient potassium really is a false economy. It looks like a saving but it leads eventually to a financial loss. Mineral potassium is after all a determinent factor for the yield and quality demands such as underwater weight, storage quality, black spot and after-cooking discolouration.


So please remember that potassium is the ultimate criterion for quality and quantity! Considering the current context, the mineral soil fertilizer Patentkali and foliar fertilizer EPSO Microtop form an unbeatable duo, the red thread during our participation at Potato Europe 2009.


Potato Europe shows: Fertilisation with magnesium improves potatoes’ resistance against Alternaria

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