Using non-woven polypropylene covers in potato production: a review
2016, 17 (3) p. 734-748
This paper analyzes the effect of non-woven polypropylene covers on plant growth and development, frost protection, tuber yield and quality and the economic effectiveness in early potato production. A high income from early potato production is possible under conditions assuring early setting and rapid gain of tuber yield and its marketing when the price is highest. The application of non-woven polypropylene covers accelerates plant emergence by 28 days and the growth and development of plants in the later period, and results in an earlier new potato harvest by up to 2-3 weeks. It also increases the tuber yield and reduces the yield variability in all years. Accelerating plant growth using non-woven polypropylene covers affects not only tuber yield quantity, but also contributes to improvement of the tuber quality, especially by an increase in dry matter, potassium and phosphorus content of tubers and decrease nitrate concentration. Such a method of potato production requires higher incurred input. Increasing the production inputs is effective when the value of the tuber yield increase obtained as a result of plant covering is higher than the costs incurred. A higher productive effect of covering is usually obtained in years with a cold spring and a very early potato harvest date. A considerable tuber yield increase in cultivation under non-woven polypropylene cover results in decreased unit costs and, consequently, the cost-effectiveness of production is higher than without covering. In conditions favouring rapid potato growth, the production costs of 1 kg tuber under cover are higher, which makes production less profitable than cultivation without plant covering.