Increasing Potato Tuber Size

Tuber size and uniformity is critical for every market, whether it is fresh potatoes, seed or processing crops. Anything that the grower can do to prolong a healthy leaf canopy will increase the average tuber size.

Crop Nutrition and Potato Tuber Size

Correct balanced nutrition is important for increasing potato tuber size. Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Manganese have all been shown to have effects on potato tuber size.


Nitrogen is important in fuelling growth and providing high yields. Nitrogen is largely needed during leaf formation and then for increasing tuber growth and size, when it ensures optimal photosynthate production in the leaves. Nitrogen fed at an early stage of crop development will help build the overall size of the leaf canopy, whereas at later stages of growth, nitrogen use helps maintain the greenness of the canopy and maximize yield.

However, this needs to be balanced as too much early nitrogen can lead to excessive vegetative growth at the expense of tuber formation and an excess supply of nitrogen at later stages of growth will keep the crop growing and can also result in a crop with many 'oversize' potatoes and place it under increased risk of blight infection. However, in hot, dry climates, where true yield potential and desired tuber size has not been met, additional nitrogen can maintain canopy growth and prolong bulking.

Effect on Tuber Size

Thus, the right rate and timing of nitrogen is important in managing potato yields, tuber size and desired quality characteristics.

This series of trials from England demonstrates increasing rates of Nitrogen resulted in an increase in tuber size and so an increase in overall yield.

Nitrogen form is also important. A balance of ammonium and nitrate is best used at planting but too much ammonium nitrogen is a disadvantage as it reduces root zone pH and thereby promotes rhizoctonia. During tuber initiation onwards through tuber bulking nitrate nitrogen has distinct advantages and is the preferred source.


Foliar Phosphorus

Foliar phosphate, applied after tuber initiation increases tuber size and so increases tuber yields, however, foliar phosphate is not a substitute for soil applied phosphate and without adequate soil phosphate early season growth is sub-optimal.

These trials conducted independently in England show a consistent yield increase from applications of foliar phosphate after tuber initiation resulting in an increase in tuber size and so overall yield.


Potato plants absorb large quantities of Potassium throughout the growing season and it is critical for high yields. 

In five trials across three years on K rich volcanic soils, 120kg K2O/ha increased average yields by 10t/ha.


Applications of calcium during bulking may increase tuber size.

Calcium and Crop Stress


Magnesium and Yield

Other Crop Management Practices Increasing Potato Tuber Size

  • Planting as early as possible to extend the length of the growing season in areas where daylight hours are limited 
  • Planting physiologically aged potatoes that emerge quickly 
  • Planting at optimum soil temperatures to ensure fast crop emergence 
  • Use of irrigation, crop nutrition and crop protection methods to ensure maximum canopy life and unlimited tuber growth 
  • Desiccation at the right stage to meet market requirement

Recommended Yara Fertilizers for Potato

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YaraBela CAN-27

YaraBela CAN-27 contains 27% total Nitrogen, 50% in the nitrate form

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Yara UreaN 425 (42.5% N) is a high analysis formulated liquid nitrogen

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YaraMila 12-10-10 (12-24-12)

YaraMila (12-11-18) is a high quality, granular NPK product which also contains magnesium and sulphur as well as micronutrients.

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YaraMila Complex (12-5-15) is a high quality, prilled NPK product which also contains magnesium and sulphur as well as micronutrients.

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YaraMila 8-11-20 (8-24-24)

YaraMila (8-11-20) is a high quality, granular NPK product which also contains sulphur and micronutrients.

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YaraLiva Nitrabor (15.5% N + 18% Ca + 0.3% B) is a high quality calcium nitrate product, with added boron, for field application.

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YaraLiva Calcinit (15.5% N + 19% Ca) is a fully water soluble nitrogen and calcium fertilizer.

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YaraVita BORTRAC 150

YaraVita Bortrac 150 is a concentrated liquid boron formulation manufactured to exacting quality control standards to guarantee consistent analysis, crop safety and product performance.

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YaraVita Brassitrel Pro contains a combination of essential micronutrients, especially suitable to vegetable and leguminous field crops.

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YaraVita COPTRAC 500

YaraVita Coptrac is a very concentrated flowable formulation with 5 times more copper than typical liquid chelates.

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YaraVita Croplift is high N water soluble NPK formulation with a balanced combination of all essential nutrients and formulated for safe foliar application.

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YaraVita Croplift-K is high K water soluble NPK formulation with a balanced combination of all essential nutrients and formulated for safe foliar application.

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YaraVita MAGFLO 300

YaraVita Hydromag Liquid is a highly concentrated flowable formulation contains almost 3 times more magnesium than epsom salts.

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YaraVita Mantrac Pro is a highly concentrated manganese formulation containing 8 times more Mn than a typical liquid chelate.

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YaraVita Molybor is an easy to handle, concentrated, liquid formulation. Containing molybdenum and boron the product is ideal for use on leguminous and vegetable field crops.

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YaraVita MOLYTRAC 250

YaraVita Molytrac contains 250g/l molydbenum in an easy to handle, concentrated, liquid formulation

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YaraVita SAFE-N 300

YaraVita Safe-N 300 Is a very safe, concentrated liquid nitrogen product designed for foliar application.

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YaraVita Stopit Is formulated from food grade calcium chloride to ensure crop safety and freedom from harmful impurities.

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21% Soluble Boron is a soluble powder formulation for use on horticulture crops