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NASS Releases Fall Potato Chemical Use Survey
USAgNet - 05/17/2017

The 2016 Agricultural Chemical Use Survey of potato producers collected data about fertilizer and pesticide use as well as pest management practices in growing fall potatoes. NASS conducted the survey in eight states that together accounted for 90 percent of the 920,800 acres planted to fall potatoes in the United States in 2016: Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Data are for the 2016 crop year, the oneyear period beginning after the 2015 harvest and ending after the 2016 harvest.

Fertilizer refers to a soil-enriching input that contains one or more plant nutrients. Farmers applied nitrogen to 98 percent of planted acres, at an average rate of 233 pounds per acre, for a total of 182 million pounds in the 2016 crop year. They applied phosphate to 92 percent of fall potato planted acres, potash to 90 percent, and sulfur to 76 percent.

The pesticide active ingredients used on fall potatoes are classified as herbicides (targeting weeds), insecticides (targeting insects), fungicides (targeting fungal disease), or other chemicals (targeting all other pests and other materials, including extraneous crop foliage). Fungicides were used most extensively, applied to 97 percent of planted acres. Herbicides and insecticides were applied to 94 and 82 percent of planted acres, respectively.

Among fungicides, chlorothalonil and mancozeb were the most widely applied active ingredients (used on 79 and 56 percent of planted acres, respectively). The most widely used herbicide was metribuzin (68 percent of planted acres).

The survey asked growers to report on the practices they used to manage pests, which the survey identifies as weeds, insects, and diseases. Fall potato growers reported practices in four categories:

- Prevention practices involve actions to keep a pest population from infesting a crop or field.

- Avoidance practices use cultural measures to mitigate or eliminate detrimental effects of pests.

- Monitoring practices observe or detect pests by sampling, counting, or other forms of scouting.

- Suppression practices involve controlling or reducing existing pest populations to mitigate crop damage.

The most widely reported monitoring practice was scouting for diseases, used on 98 percent of fall potato planted acres. Among avoidance practices, crop rotation was practiced on 97 percent of planted acres. The most widely used prevention practice was cleaning equipment and implements after field work to reduce the spread of pests (86 percent). Using pesticides with different mechanisms of action to keep pests from becoming resistant to pesticides was the most reported suppression practice (70 percent).

These practices were also the top practice in each category in 2014, when NASS last conducted the fall potato chemical use survey.

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