Spuds - Under Organic Mulch vs. in the Soil

Final Report for FNE01-365

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2001: $1,465.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Sue Cosgrove
LeeJun Farm
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Project Information


Note to readers, attached is complete final report for FNE01-365

This project proposed to compare conventionally planted potatoes to potatoes planted on top of the soil but under different organic mulches.

Four varieties of potatoes were planted in beds three feet in width. The conventionally grown potatoes were planted 4 – 5” deep. Potatoes planted on top of the soil received 12” of mulch, either grass clippings, hay, or shredded newspaper. Floating row covers covered all the beds to reduce damage from Colorado Potato Beetle and deer feeding. When the conventionally planted potatoes reached 4 –6” in height, soil was hilled around the plants. At the same time, the mulched potatoes received another 6” of mulch.

The project was terminated in July because 6” of rain fell during the early morning hours of July 8th, resulting in widespread flooding that washed out many of the plots.

Sue did note an unexpected result of this project. One person had a severe allergic reaction after eating potatoes that had been mulched with newspaper. The person is sensitive to all grains and is especially sensitive to legumes. They hypothesized that the soy-based ink on the newspaper resulted in the reaction, even though the potatoes had been washed, peeled, and cooked before eating.


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  • Linda Beatty
  • Claudi Gianninni
  • Mary McCormick
  • Tom McCutcheon


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.