The benefits and harms of removing potato flowers

During the growth period, 25% of the nutrients the potato bush spends on the formation of stems and leaves, 50% on tubers, the remaining 25% on inflorescences and berries. It is believed that if you cut off the flowers on a potato, then the released resources will go to the tubers. But this assumption is purely theoretical. Before proceeding with the removal, I advise you to weigh the advantages and disadvantages.

Potato growers have repeatedly conducted experiments in areas with different climates and types of soil. They planted two beds of the same type of potatoes. On one bed, the flowers were left, on the other, they were removed.

In each case, when harvesting, it turned out that the bushes with flowers produced fewer tubers, but they were larger and of the correct shape. Potatoes with dangling flowers produced many tubers, but small ones.

When the inflorescences break off, the bush has to expend energy to restore the injured stem. The released nutrients do not reach the tubers, and the ripening period of the potatoes increases. In addition, the risk that a damaged plant will become ill, for example, with late blight, which can destroy up to 70% of the crop, increases several times.

Disadvantages of cutting off flowers on potatoes:

  • the size of tubers decreases;
  • the risk of disease in the bushes increases;
  • the ability to grow potatoes from seeds to renew planting material is lost;
  • picking off flowers, a person walks between the rows, trampling the soil, and also transferring fungi, viruses, bacteria, this inhibits the development of bushes and leads to their infection.
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The advantage of lengthening potato flowers is only one – there are many small and medium tubers suitable for planting next year, but from the procedure itself there is more harm than good.

If, nevertheless, it is decided to remove the inflorescences, then this must be done before the buds bloom or after the seeds have ripened, otherwise the bush is severely injured.

Over the hundred-year history of breeding, potato varieties (mostly early ones) have appeared that do not bloom, giving more resources to the tubers. Instead of breaking off the inflorescences, it is better to focus on these varieties.

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Anna Evans


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