Field trials were conducted to determine potato response to parts per trillion (ppt) per weight concentrations of sulfometuron in soil. The herbicide was applied to achieve targeted, 0-d soil concentrations of 0, 7.5, 15, 30, 60, 120, 240, 480, and 960 ppt. Russet Burbank potatoes were planted immediately after application using standard agronomic practices. Based on midseason visual evaluations, root and tuber injury occurred with 0-d concentrations of only 7.5 ppt. Concentrations at or above 120 ppt caused a significant increase in number of tubers with deformities compared with the control. By the end of the growing season, 0-d concentrations between 120 and 240 ppt resulted in higher percentages of tubers with deformities, such as cracks, knobs, or folds. Using logistic models fit to U.S. No. 1 tuber yield and net return data, doses of 74, 156, and 324 ppt are predicted to result in 5, 10, and 20% U.S. No. 1 yield reductions, respectively. The model predicted a 20% net return loss, approximately $160/ha, occurring at 262 ppt, which is near the 240 ppt concentration determined by standard ANOVAs and means comparisons with single degree of freedom contrasts causing significant tuber quality and yield reductions in our study. Growers using the 240 ppt concentration as an indicator of a no-effect level would encounter actual losses too great to withstand. This modeling approach provides an initial attempt at giving growers the tools necessary for assessing potential losses.
Nomenclature: Sulfometuron; potato; Solanum tuberosum L; ‘Russet Burbank’