All about Potato Seeds – Selecting and Preparing Potato Seeds for Planting
Potatoes grown for seed stock are called
. These potatoes are grown from the tubers for reproduction of potatoes. This article details on how to select a good quality seed potato and how to prepare potato seeds for planting in your garden.
Selecting the Potato Seed:
- Be careful about the certification of the seeds. You can be assured that such seeds conform to guidelines of varietals purity, field inspections, and disease tolerances according to certification agency rules and regulations.
- Inspect the seed for the disease symptoms. Examine the seed tuber and seed source. Seed lots with more than one percent of the tubers showing blackleg symptoms or soft rot symptoms should not be used.
- The presence of pinkeye, early blight or late blight lesions on the tubers should not be used.
- While choosing the seed it is important to see whether the seed is physiologically and physically healthy. The physiological age of the seed is an important factor in choosing the potato seed. Factors affecting the physiological age of the seed include growing season stress, storage temperature and time. You can gather a sample, place them indoors (about 70F) and allow them to sprout. The type of sprout gives the idea whether the seed is dormant seed, young seed, middle-aged seed or old seed.
Preparing the Potato Seed for Your Garden:
- Cut seed potatoes that are larger than a chicken egg into pieces about 1 inch across or slightly larger. Each piece should have at least one â€œeyeâ€ (the bud where the stem will grow from), preferably two eyes. Egg-sized and smaller tubers can be planted whole.
- Traditionally, cut seed potato pieces are allowed to cure for a few days to a few weeks before planting. This is because the cut potatoes need high humidity, plenty of oxygen and temperatures between 50 F and 65 F to heal quickly. If you have excellent, well-drained soil that meets those conditions, you can plant the seed pieces without curing. But if conditions are not right, the seed potatoes will rot in the ground.
- To get your potatoes off to a flying start it is often recommended that you â€˜chit’ them before planting. This allows strong chits (sprouts) to develop on the tubers before planting. To chit seed potatoes, place them just touching in a seed tray or individually in the sections of egg boxes. Make sure the â€˜rose’ end (where most of the â€˜eyes’ are) is uppermost. It is these eyes that will form the chits. Place the trays in a cool, light frost-free environment at a temperature of about 45 degree F.
- The aim of chitting is to produce plump, dark green or purple shoots about 1in/2.5cm long. After 24 hours you can plant these potato seeds in your garden.