Earthing up refers to the act of heaping soil around the root zone of the potato plant. It is one of the primary production practices that must be done to increase the potato yield. Earthing up should be done twice, one at two weeks after full emergence and another one be done at sixth week or 45 days after full emergence.
Earthing up increases yield of potato through the following ways:
- Proper earthing up ensures stolons found above the ground are well covered with soil providing the necessary conditions for new tuber formation. This process when well-done can double or triple the harvest due to the new tubers formed from the stolon.
- Allows for soil aeration and exchange of other gaseous components in the soil.
- Improves water infiltration into the root zone.
- Loosens the soil particles therefore provide room for tuber expansion.
- Provides dark condition which is ideal for tuber growth and development and also reduces tuber greening which could be as a result of exposure to light.
- It also helps in exposing soil born pests to direct sunlight hence reducing their populations in the soil.
- Earthing up also provides an opportunity to the farmer to remove opportunistic plants and weeds.
However, care should be taken when earthing up to avoid causing damage to the roots which can possibly lead to death of the plant.
A freshly earthed up potato crops done two weeks after full emergence.
A picture of potato crop showing the stolon. https://www.istockphoto.com
Source: Potato production handbook By NPCK https://npck.org/Books/PotatoProductionHandbook2019(002).pdf