Process potato harvesting on Tasmania’s northwest coast
Senior agronomist Simon Nowell of Tasmania’s northwest coast says potato harvests are looking good but growers should look out for three problems affecting quality and yield this season.
Potatoes are Tasmania’s highest value vegetable, with the state Australia’s second-largest producer of potatoes. Process potatoes are grown in Tasmania under contract to either Simplot or McCain.
Simplot Ulverstone processes over 320,000 tons of potatoes each year for frozen French fries and other potato products, while McCain takes about 75,000 tonnes.
Harvest has started this season with the plan to have all potatoes into the factories or storage before the winter rains. Yield is on target for both processors, with good size and solids recorded.
Recently, we have started to see an increased amount of an internal defect called “hollow heart” in potatoes. It is believed the higher incidence of hollow heart this season is a result of a cooler growing season, where the tubers have experienced a slowing down in growth at some point in the tuber bulking phase.
Some Pink Rot has been found in northeast crops and Powdery Scab is affecting some crops.
Pink Rot, Phytophthora erythroseptica, is a major disease in the Tasmanian potato industry, with most crops being treated with metalaxyl at planting and again before row closure.
Nufarm is releasing a new product, Amishield 500WG fungicide, which will offer an alternative to the traditional treatments for Pink Rot and it also has some control over powdery scab.
Amishield is compatible with azoxystrobin, metalaxyl, fipronil, imidacloprid and iprodione and so should be a valuable product at plant time for fresh market, seed and processing crops.
Some interesting trials have been conducted looking for new process varieties. Simplot and McCain are always looking at varieties that will improve cooking capabilities, yield increase and disease resistance.
Did you know Elders has provided Plant Breeder’s Rights (PBR) potatoes to the Australian potato industry for many years?