Modelling potential potato yields: Accounting for experimental differences in modern cultivars

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Current potential yield simulations of potato crops can be lower than actual yields observed in fields and the potential yield simulations miss important cultivar differences, for instance in terms of cultivar earliness. This causes issues not only for potential yield simulations but also when estimating the limiting effects of water (and nitrogen) and yield gaps in farmers’ fields. To address this issue, we recalibrated potential yield simulations with WOFOST for five commercial Dutch potato cultivars. An experiment conducted during the 2020 season was used for model calibration while the 2019 version of the same experiment was used for evaluation. The focus of the calibration was on phenology, photosynthesis, and biomass allocation. To aid the latter, the WOFOST biomass allocation table functions were replaced with sigmoid functions and biomass reallocation from haulm to tubers was introduced. In total 19 parameters were adjusted and/or introduced. Twelve of these parameters were not cultivar-specific, e.g. the specific leaf area over the plant developmental stage (SLATB), and the maximum leaf CO2 assimilation rate as function of developmental time (AMAXTB). Seven parameters differed between the cultivars, e.g. the thermal time between emergence and tuber initiation (TSUM1), and most of these were correlated to cultivar earliness. For the calibration year, final yields were underestimated by on average 5.4%, while for the evaluation year the final yield was overestimated by 4.4%. In comparison, the final dry matter yields ranged from 16.4 to 18.5 t ha−1 in 2019 and 15.5–17.5 t ha−1 in 2020. The old WOFOST parameters for potato resulted in an underestimation of 23.7% and 28.7% for, respectively, 2019 and 2020. Improving the parameter sets greatly increased accuracy of the simulations and provided insight in which parameters are cultivar specific and related to cultivar-earliness.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126510
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Experiments
  • Model calibration
  • Solanum tuberosum
  • The Netherlands
  • Varieties


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