Good crop spacing is one of the agronomic practices that contribute to high yield of various crops when followed appropriately. In potato production, spacing of tubers during planting should be 75cm between rows depending on the variety. The distance between one plant and the next on the same row should be 30cm.
However, most small scale potato farmers do not follow these spacing requirements and end up using narrower spacing during planting with a goal of increasing their plant population per unit area of land. By doing so they end up getting lower yield due to the following challenges that arise in the process.
- Narrow spacing increases competition for limited growth factors such as nutrients and sunlight between plants hence poor health and consequently lower yields.;
- Narrow spacing contributes to overcrowding which can lead to creation of a microclimate that is ideal for pest hideouts and diseases epidemiology hence leading to higher costs of production in managing them.
- Narrow spacing limits space for management practices such as weeding and pest control through spray leading to lower yield quality.
- During hilling(earthing up), wide spacing provides sufficient soil for the important exercise. Narrow spacing limits it.
Potato planting: A spacing of 30cm between the plants and 75cm between the rows should be observed during planting.