Potato irrigation in Kenya is done by overhead sprinklers, rain hose kits, or drip irrigation. Grekkon Limited trains farmers on how to irrigate potatoes in Kenya. This is done during the dry season or in middle altitude areas where rainfall is insufficient in the season. Potato field irrigation is uncommon in the highlands where seasonal rainfall is sufficient to carry the crop to maturity. But with the changing climate, rainfall patterns are less predictable, and, even here, potato irrigation management is key to high yields.
1. Irrigation method of potato
Overhead irrigation on hilled potato furrows is the most common irrigation way. This requires high water volume and a high-pressure pump to execute. Drip irrigation is the fastest growing method of irrigating potatoes because it is water efficient.
2. Potato irrigation scheduling
A farmer will keep a proper schedule because potato does not tolerate water stress. Under-irrigation leads to poor tuber quality and low yield. Over-irrigation leaches nitrogen, makes the crop susceptible to disease and there is tuber quality loss during storage. The farmer will know how much water to give and when to avoid any of these two problems.
3. Critical stage of irrigation in potato
During tuber formation, irrigation is done sufficiently to support the crop’s increased water needs. It is the most important stage of the crop’s irrigation. When the tubers mature, less irrigation is carried out.
4. Water requirements for potato
Potato in Kenya mature in 150 days. In this time, 500mm to 700mm of water per crop is enough.
5. Irrigation time of potato
Early morning is the best time to irrigate potatoes. This allows the soil to warm during the day reducing the chances of fungal root disease. Night irrigation lowers soil temperature, a precursor for fungal root diseases.
6. Potato irrigation management
When the crop is young, it requires smaller amounts of water. This increases gradually as the crop matures to peak at tuber formation. Once the tubers are mature, then the water requirement drops.
7. Potato drip irrigation system and method
Every furrow ridge has one drip line with an emitter spacing of 15cm or 20cm. Drip irrigation is the best way to irrigate potatoes because it delivers water directly to the root zone, and is water efficient.
8. Cost of potato irrigation in Kenya
The cost per acre is; Kes 125,000 for drip irrigation. Kes 75,000 for rain hose or sprinkler irrigation system
i.What is the best way to water potatoes?
Drip irrigation is the best way to water potatoes. This is because they are easily infected by fungal diseases when moisture is left for long on the leaves
ii. How much water is required to grow potatoes?
500mm to 700mm per crop per season is sufficient
iii. Do potatoes need irrigation?
Yes they do in locations where the seasonal rainfall is not enough
iv. How much water does a potato plant need per day?/ How much water do potatoes need after planting?
Potato requires 1 to 2 inches of water per week
v. When should I stop watering my potato plants?
2 weeks before harvest
vi. How often should you water potato plants?/ How many times do you water potato?
Keep the soil moist always during the growing season of the crop