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GENETIC ABNORMALITIES

GENETIC ABNORMALITIES

Wildings are potato plants that produce darker green foliage than normal, rarely flower, produce numerous stems and many more tubers than normal. Feathery wildings are another variation of this problem. The causes are unknown and control is by roguing out these plants during the seed certification process. Another abnormality, giant hill, causes potato plants to mature later than normal, grow extremely large and vigorously, produce numerous flowers. The tubers from these plants are usually few and rough. The cause is unknown and the control is via roguing. These are rarely seen in Atlantic Canada.

NUTRIENT DISORDERS

Yield reductions can occur with absences or shortages of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur, calcium and magnesium, which are the macronutrients essential for normal growth. Magnesium deficiency is common on coarse-textured acidic Maritime soils. Micronutrients generally considered essential include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. Some or all of these micronutrients may be in short or limiting supply and symptoms of shortage may resemble one or more infectious or non-infectious diseases.

In addition to deficiencies, excessive amounts of micronutrients such as boron, aluminum and manganese may cause considerable yield damage in potatoes particularly on acidic soils around pH 5.

HERBICIDE INJURY

Herbicide drift onto a growing potato crop or soil borne residues of specific herbicides, may cause significant and severe loss in the potato crop. Some potato cultivars (e.g. Shepody) are extremely sensitive to soil persistent herbicides. If potatoes are grown on land that has been treated with these chemicals, picloram in particular, in the last few years, severe yield loss and tuber malformations and stem-end discoloration may result. Such chemicals may be taken up by seed potatoes which continue to show herbicide injury symptoms even if they are grown for several generations.