Growing Potato crop nutrition advice

Everything you need to know about fertilizing potatoes, best practices, suitable products, field trials and more

Crop nutrition advice for growing potato (Solanum tuberosum)

  • Potatoes perform best in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.7.

  • Potatoes thrive well and give the best yield in sandy loam to slit loam organically rich and well-drained soil.

  • In soils with a high pH (above 7.5), deficiencies of phosphorus and micronutrients may appear.

  • In high pH conditions potatoes are susceptible to scab bacterial infection caused by Streptomyces scabies.

  • The optimum conditions for root development and tuber initiation are well drained, aerated soils, with temperatures between 59 and 68 oF.

  • Shorter days will help tuber initiation whereas longer days will delay it.

Nutrient requirements

Estimated nutrient uptake (kg/t) by: 

Above ground biomass21425330251213

Source: IPNI

Role of nutrients

Key parameterNP2O5K2OMgCS
Tuber size+++++
Tuber weight +++++
Skin set -++
Bruising and handling-+++++
Tuber color (internal blackening)+/-+
Dry matter content -+/--+/-
Starch content-++/-

+ = improving

– = decreasing

+/- = different results, depending on the rate of nutrient applied 

Source: IPI bulletin – Fertilizing for high yield | POTATO 

Nutrient deficiencies

NitrogenLeaves are pale green (general chlorosis) 
Old leaves remain yellow, while younger leaves turn darker 
Plants will produce less stems and tubers 
PhosphorusPlant growth is stunted 
Darker color than normal 
Lower leaf surface gray green 
Leaflets roll upwards if deficiency is severe. 
It occurs on calcareous and heavy soils, where P can be fixed 
PotassiumPotassium deficiency symptoms normally Scorched appearance with black pigmentation and necrotic edges (dead tissues) 
Symptoms appear on the young, full-sized leaves 
Common in light soils due to easier leaching.  
CalciumModerate calcium deficiency may not appear but in severe situations leaf’s margin can be affected 
Brown blotches may appear around the stolon end of the tubers 
Tubers may show severe skin cracking  
Deficiencies are severe in soils with pH below 5 
MagnesiumChlorosis of leaf margins of older leaves. Yellowing Symptoms appear first on the older leaves, due to its mobility 
General chlorosis with veins remaining green  
Scorched appearance caused by interveinal necrosis 
Can occur on sandy soils and when high K level were applied 
SulfurSymptoms are similar to nitrogen deficiency, but deficiency symptoms occur first in younger leaves (as yellowing similar N deficiency) 
General chlorosis 
The yellowing is uniform and general 
It may occur on loamy sand soils 
Potato plants with healthy leaves
Potatoes harvested in optimum condition


Here are some frequently asked questions we received from farmers regarding growing potatoes

  • This decision begins with a soil test, however, potatoes are highly responsive to P and may require additional fertilizer beyond what the soil test recommends. Additional strategies to improve the efficiency of P fertilizer use include placement close to the seed piece, use of humic or fulvic acids, and acidifying P fertilizers like Agrolution pHLow to ensure maximum availability to the plant. 

  • Sulfur is essential for all crops. In potatoes, adequate sulfur nutrition can reduce sugar development in storage and increase tuber yields. 

  • Calcium is important in the development of roots and shoots and will also help with reducing storage losses. 

  • Yes, improving the health of the soil will improve water management and nutrient availability.

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