Tips For Picking Seed Potatoes

Kevin

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This article will attempt to guide the reader through the process of visiting the local farm supply store and picking out the best seed potatoes.

What exactly is a seed potato? Isn't is supposed to be potato seeds? Potatoes are not grow from seed. Potatoes from the previous year are used to grow more potatoes. Thus the name, seed potatoes and not potato seed.

Starting in January farm supply stores that carry seeds, livestock feed... etc will typically start getting their seed potatoes in. The seed potatoes will usually be kept in bins with the type of potato labeled on the outside.

Special thank you goes to Circle Three Feed in Jasper, Texas for allowing pictures to be taken for this article - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Circle-Three-Feed/2134742313469522

Example of a potato bin:

potato-bin.JPG

If you look closely there are sprouts growing on the potatoes; those sprouts are called "eyes."

When picking seed potatoes we want to look for three things:

  • Eyes
  • Size of the potato
  • Signs of rot on the potato

The more "eyes" on the potato the better. This is where the potato plant will sprout from the seed potato. When handling the seed potato, be careful not to knock the eyes off the potato.

Buying Seed Potatoes

Seed potatoes are typically sold by the pound. The problem is, we are going to cut the seed potatoes into parts before planting. When looking at the seed potato, consider how it will be cut into portions. On a personal note, I like small seed potatoes that can be cut in half and planted. This makes for very little waste.

Size of the seed potato does not determine size of the potato plant A seed potato the size of a silver dollar will grow the same size and quantity as larger seed potatoes. When using large seed potatoes there will be waste as all of the potato will not be used. When it comes to buying seed potatoes, larger is not always better.

Take a few seconds and look over the potatoes for any signs of rot or bruising. Bruises are discolored areas which helps rot start on the potato. Rot is typically bacteria that starts to eat on the potato.


When Should Someone Buy Seed Potatoes?

I like to buy my seed potatoes several weeks before it is time to plant. Store the potatoes in a paper bag in a dry location. There are stories of old timers putting potatoes under their bed several weeks before planting.

We want to give the seed potatoes time to sprout their eyes. Buying seed potatoes a day or two, or even a week before planting does not give the potato time to sprout eyes.

If someone is buying seed potatoes right before planting, pick out potatoes that already have eyes on them. However, not all potatoes at the store will have eyes.

How Many Plants Will Grow From Each Seed Potato?

That is determined by how many portions a seed potato is cut into. As mentioned earlier, small potatoes that have eyes on them can be easily cut in half. This means each half will grow into a potato plant.

Crop production is determined in part by rainfall, soil conditions, and type of fertilizer used.

Let's Review

We want to look for seed potatoes that have sprouts, aka eyes.

Think about how will the potato be cut into pieces for planting.

Look for signs of bruising or rot on the seed potatoes.

Store in a paper bag, or other dark location until time to plant.

Several days before planting we will cut the seed potatoes into pieces and given time to dry before planting. We will talk about cutting seed potatoes in another article.
 
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