Besides its effect on potato yield, water also has a significant impact on yield quality. Excess water (too much precipitation, over-irrigation) and the lack of water (lack of precipitation or irrigation) both trigger stress in the plant and can significantly worsen the quality of the yield (seed potato) and deteriorate the health of the plant...and the seed potato. Excess precipitaton or irrigation water leaches nitrate-nitrogen under the rhizosphere, consequently, the amount of available nitrogen decreases leading to the deficiency of N in potato. If water cover (the maximally saturated state of soil) exceeds 8-12 hours, it can cause root destruction (because of the lack of oxygen), which leads to the wilting and later to the death of the plant. Abundance of water caused by excess precipitation or irrigation is a major problem primarily on sandy loam, loam and clay loam soils with bad structure and water management qualities, but also on any soils, which are over-irrigated or irrigated at an improper time. Symptoms of the lack of water are detectable mostly when the available water content of the soil (disponible water) decreases under 60-65%.
In the present year, there was a lack of precipitation on the Great Plain, which can be compensated by proper irrigation. Unfortunately, this problem is further intensified by the high temperature, which results in faster ripening and accompanied with fluctuating soil moisture content, in the formation of secondary tubers.
In Hungary, the growing area of potato area reduced dramatically in the last few decades, additionally we are lagging behind the Western European countries as regards yields and the competitiveness of production is further decreased by the great alternation in yields from year to year, the unpredictable market conditions, bad consumption habits... and many times unfortunately the lack of quality products.
The ecological and climatic conditions of Hungary are not everywhere suitable for potato, in the area of Debrecen the amount of rainfall was lower, and the monthly average temperature was higher than the requirement of potato in its growing season in 2002 and 2003.
The experiment was carried out at the experimental site of the University of Debrecen, Farm and Regional Research Institute, at Látókép. In our experiment we examined the yield and some quality parameters of 8 and 9 medium-early varieties in large parcels in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Out of the examined varieties 3 are of Dutch, and 6 are of Hungarian breeding.
The experiment was set up on 49.5 m2 parcels on calcareous chernozem soil after winter wheat as a forecrop in both years. The 9 varieties were examined in 4 repetitions in randomized blocks, out of which two repetitions were irrigated, and two were non-irrigated.
We examined the yields of the varieties, the distribution of tubers according to size and their percentages, and the changes in specific parameters of quality and inner content due to irrigation. We studied the dry matter content, the starch content, the under-water mass, the amount of reducing sugars, the colour index of frying and the element contents of tubers.
Summing up, it can be stated that among the agrotechnical year effect, variety and irrigation factors have considerable impact on potato yield quality and quantity. On the basis of our results, it can be stated that in potato production variety should be chosen in accordance with the aim of production and technology should be adapted to that specific variety.