Solanum tuberosum (weed)

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A volunteer potato (Solanum tuberosum) plant in an onion field as a weed. (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University
Source: IPM Images

Solanum tuberosum (weed) L. - (volunteer potato)

When harvesting potatoes, some of the tubers will remain in or on top of the soil. These are mainly tubers that are too small to be picked up by harvesting machines. This may be up to 10% of the harvest, or several hundred thousands tubers per hectare. Tubers as small as 10 mm in size may sprout and start growing in the succeeding crop(s), producing volunteer potato plants.

The volunteer plants are like weeds, reducing the yield of the following crop. In maize losses of up to 60% have been estimated and even higher losses in onions and carrots. In addition, the volunteer plants can interfere with the harvesting of the next crop. Further, the volunteer plants have a negative effect by preserving potato pests and diseases. This is particular important for monophagous pests and diseases like Leptinotarsa decemlineata or Clavibacter sepedonicus.

For a review of control methods see EPPO Bulletin (2020).