Potato crop needs of fertilizer and other factors

The potato is a crop spread throughout the planet, and for this reason its physiological needs have been extensively studied. We are going to comment on the function that each element performs in the development of this tuber and then we will move on to application doses and the most common pathophysiology caused by lack of nutrients.



Although potato cultivation has been declining over the years, it continues to be a very important product in Spain. For this reason, it is essential to know the potato fertilizer in   order to achieve adequate productions.

Evolution of the potato area, SOURCE: Magrama

The potato is a temperate zone crop that suffers from low temperatures. It is also sensitive to frost, limiting its cultivation to the southern areas of Spain or choosing extra-early varieties. The potato needs irrigated areas, reaching 4,750-5,600 m 3 / ha. As for the soil, it prefers slightly acidic pH conditions (5.5-7), tolerating very acidic soils.

The availability of nutrients greatly influences its performance. The main nutrients in potato fertilizer and their role in cultivation are the following:

The nitrogen is indispensable source in leaf development of the plant and the starch content of the tuber. Nitrogen is a very important mineral in potato fertilization. An excess of this nutrient implies an excessive development of the foliar area to the detriment of the tuber, as well as an increase in the sugar and protein content.

The phosphorus promotes root development and the number of tubers. In addition, potassium influences the early development of the crop, essential for extra-early varieties.

The potassium  affects the dry matter content of the crop being related to processes of potato storage. Increased resistance to frost, drought and cryptogamic diseases.

Special attention must be paid to the supply of magnesium since the potato is susceptible to deficiencies of this mineral.

The sulfur produces favorable effects in the formation of the tuber.


It is also important to know the potato cultivation work and its conditions to achieve an increase in production or, at least, in its development. There are some basic guidelines to improve the soil-plant relationship:

  • The minimum depth of the soil should not be less than 50 cm (60 cm for other authors).
  • The appropriate (non-optimal) level of organic matter would be around 1.5%.
  • The favorable soil pH is neutral or slightly acidic. In acid soils there are fungal diseases that act less intensely, such as potato scab.
  • The soil texture should be spongy, airy, and well drained. This will allow the growing tuber to find fewer physical barriers to its development.
  • An alkaline or strongly basic soil reduces the organoleptic quality of the potato and increases the percentage of diseases.
  • Be careful with very saline soils, as they reduce their production. The potato is moderately sensitive to the content of salts.


The potato is a demanding crop in nitrogen and potassium. An indicative way to meet nutritional requirements is the following example:

  • 3,5-5 kg N/t
  • 1,5-2 kg P2O5/t
  • 6-10 kg K2O/t

[kilograms of nutrients per ton of tubers.]

This would be the breakdown of fertilizers in the potato according to the date of application.


Sharpness (long and thin shoots): this problem is related to the lack of manganese in the crop.

Hollowed and cracked tubers: these are mainly produced by excessive nitrogen inputs during the last period in the crop cycle.



20 t / ha800 kg / ha NPK 4-8-16 / 400 kg / ha NPK 9-18-27200 kg / ha nitrogen solution 32 or 250 kg / ha ammonium nitrosulfate 26
40 t / ha1,000 kg / ha NPK 4-8-16 / 500 kg / ha NPK 9-18-27 + 200 kg / ha potassium sulfate 50200 kg / ha nitrogen solution 32 or 250 kg / ha ammonium nitrosulfate 26
Showing from 1 to 2 of 2 records


Other minerals:

  • Boron : the potato requires low percentages of boron. The manifestation of this deficiency is shown when the potato is cooked and it falls apart.
  • Magnesium : the potato is sensitive to the deficiencies of this mineral. It shows it with a yellowing of the veins of its leaves. An incorporation of 30 kg / ha is suitable for productions of 27 tons per hectare.
  • Zinc : the potato positively tolerates the incorporations by foliar route of this mineral.
  • Calcium : calcium deficiency causes the total absence of production in the potato crop.
  • Manganese : the deficiencies of this mineral are manifested in soils with high pH or with high applications of limestone. Manganese deficiency manifests as chlorosis on small leaves. If this deficiency occurs, it is usually corrected with manganese sulfate applications at a rate of 50 kg / ha.

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