Role of Potassium in Potato Production

Potassium plays a key role in water relations and good overall plant health. Potato plants utilize large quantities of potassium throughout the growing season.

Potassium in potato yield

Potassium influences the transport of nutrients and the movement of carbohidrates from the leaf to the tuber. Potassium in potato is critical for high yields. In five trials across three years on K-rich volcanic soils (Ecuador), 107 lb K2O/ac increased average yields by 4.7 t/ac.

Potassium form and potato yield

It is important that potassium availability is not limiting. Trials in Bulgaria show that potassium nitrate in potatoes is a particularly effective formulation, providing readily soluble and quickly absorbed potassium and nitrate nitrogen in comparison with other potassium forms.

In South African trials, use of potassium nitrate in potatoes in conjunction with calcium nitrate, ensures fast uptake of all three important elements enhancing yield over and above other products.

Potassium form and potato bruising

Potash reduces the level of tuber bruising. Sulfate of potash (SOP) in comparison, can lead to greater bruising than muriate of potash (MOP) when tubers with a high dry matter content are produced, as shown in UK trials.

Potassium form and dry matter

Sulfate of potash can provide higher dry matter content than muriate of potash, as shown in studies in Denmark. Therefore sulfate of potash is frequently the preferred form for processing potatoes.

General guidelines for application of potassium in potato

Potassium is the nutrient taken up in the largest quantity by potatoes, so it is important that it is not limited during the growing season. Trials show that potassium nitrate is a particularly effective formulation, providing readily soluble and quickly absorbed potassium and nitrate-nitrogen in comparison with other potassium forms. This makes potassium nitrate particularly effective in sidedressing applications during the potato bulking stage. Sulfate of potash is also an acceptable form for delivering potassium. Muriate of potash is less desirable as excess chlorides can reduce quality. 

Potassium at potato growth stages
Planting Early growth and enzymatic activity
Post planting Carbohydrate transport, enzymatic activity, and water status regulation

Role of Nutrients

Read about the role of other nutrients in potato production: