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Safe-to-eat spuds?

I HAVE recently heard that some potatoes growers spray their crops to hurry the harvest along. Can you tell me if this is correct?

And also can you tell me which potatoes growers do not spray their crops as the thought of eating potatoes that are contaminated with spray makes me feel quite ill.


YES, it's true that many potato growers use herbicide spray to kill off potato plant foliage and any weeds that are around before they machine-harvest the crop.

Machine harvesting is only possible if the foliage has died down, so to supply the demand for fresh dug potatoes all year round this method of killing off the tops has become a relatively common practice.

The herbicide used, Reglone, is approved under the legislation that controls agrichemical use to be used in this way on potatoes.

It is a contact herbicide, killing only the foliage the spray comes in contact with and does not move through the plant into the tubers.

If you want to avoid the possibility of eating potatoes treated this way you could grow your own (it's easy and rewarding - see Weekend Gardener, Issue 132) or buy those labelled as organically grown.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 141, 2004, Page 22

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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Last updated: June 30, 2005