Mark S. Reiter, Eastern Shore AREC, Virginia Tech, Painter, VA and Steve Rideout, Virginia Tech Eastern Shore Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Painter, VA
Calcium (Ca) and sulfur (S) may significantly impact white potato (Solanum tuberosum) tuber quality and yield in the Mid-Atlantic. A field trial was initiated on a Bojac sandy loam using ‘Superior’ white potatoes in summer 2010. Gypsum was applied at 1120, 2240, 3360, and 4480 kg ha-1, giving effective S application rates of 188, 376, 564, and 753 kg S ha-1 and Ca application rates of 252, 504, 756, and 1008 kg Ca ha-1. Sulfur rates comparable to the gypsum application were also applied using elemental sulfur along with separate treatments of 0, 28, 56, and 112 kg S ha-1. Soft rot (Erwinia carotovora ss. carotovora) and Pythium leak (Pythium sp.) occurred naturally in this trial causing tuber rots in the field. Potato tubers were harvested using a mechanized potato harvester and graded for marketability. Gypsum applications reduced tuber rot in 2010 and 2011 and increased total marketable yield. Sulfur applications alone did not impact total yield, but S applications via gypsum did reduce tuber rot in 2011. This study was repeated in summer 2012. Overall, gypsum applications were beneficial for the reduction of tuber rots and increased yield for potatoes grown in Mid-Atlantic sandy loam soils.