How Can I Grow Potatoes? The potato (Lat. Solanum tuberosum) is a Solanaceae plant native to the South American Andes. An underground tuber is used in the diet, and this plant conquered the world after the discovery of America.
On average, raw tubers contain 75% water, 18.2% starch, 2% protein, 1.5% sugar, 1% cellulose, 0.1% fat, and 0.2% acid. It is high in complex carbohydrates (starches), vitamins C and B, is low in cholesterol and salt (NaCl), and contains essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Because it contains the alkaloid solanine, the entire plant is toxic, except for the tubers. The above-ground and underground parts of the stem grow to a height of 12-60 inches and are developed from sprout tubers (vegetative propagation) or true seeds (generative propagation).
How Can I Grow Potatoes?
Stolons are underground lateral stems that grow horizontally. The thickening of the stolon produces a tuber, which is a modified part of the underground stem – the stolon. It is the main reserve organ of potatoes, used for wintering and reproduction. The tuber cutter varies in colour from yellow to purple, and the flesh is usually white to yellow but can be purple depending on the variety.
Only in light soils up to 40 inches deep does the root reach a depth of 15-20 inches. It grows on the stem’s underground portion and branches laterally up to 20 inches, and in the case of potato sowing, the main root with numerous lateral roots develops. The root slowly dies as the potatoes ripen.
The potatoes are suited to temperatures with minimal fluctuations both during the growing season and during the tubers’ winter dormancy in storage. When planting, the soil temperature should be between 43 and 47 degrees Fahrenheit. At 30 to 28 °F, the stem with leaves freezes. Temperatures between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal for tuber growth. Higher temperatures reduce tuber formation and yields, and temperatures above 85 °F completely stop tuber growth.
The ideal inclination temperature is 53-59 °F, which reduces the processing time by 10-12 days. High temperatures reduce yield, but a brief increase in temperature (one week) to 68 °F at the start of germination and then lowering to 46-50 °F increases yield.
Lighter soil types, such as permeable, loose, sandy-humus, and sandy-loamy soil with a crumbly structure, high mineral and organic matter content, and favourable water-air characteristics, are best suited. It is unsuitable for heavy wetlands with high groundwater levels. Potatoes can withstand more acidic soil reactions, and the ideal pH range is 5.4-6.5.
Potatoes are a plant that thrives in a moderately humid climate, and the yield and quality of the tubers are reduced in the absence of water. Secondary tubers form on already developed (primary) tubers in dry or wet conditions, resulting in significant market value loss. Plantations can be irrigated with various types of rain sprinkles during dry spells.
Rotation of Crops
Crop rotation is a fundamental principle of potato production. Proper rotation can help to prevent or reduce the attacks of many harmful organisms, as well as improve product quality and yield high-quality products. Potatoes tolerate monoculture well but are not planted in the same location for several years in a row for phytosanitary reasons (especially to protect against nematodes). It may return to the same location after 3-4 years.
Alfalfa, red clover, clover-grass mixtures, peas, and husk are the best potato prerequisites, while cereals are slightly less favourable. As prerequisites, perennial legumes and clover-grass mixtures increase yields by up to 20% when compared to cereals.
Potatoes should not be planted after plants in the helper family (tomatoes, eggplants, tobacco, etc.) or fodder. It is an excellent pre-planting for all other crops because its roots and tubers loosen the soil and keep weeds at bay. As a second crop, early potato varieties are a good prerequisite for winter rape and vegetables.
Soil cultivation begins with the summer-autumn ploughing of the remainder of the pre-culture to a depth of about 6 inches, which prevents weed growth and soil moisture loss. Plough up to a depth of 8 inches and loosen the bottom layer another 5 inches deep if possible. The formation of a leak-proof layer at the furrow’s bottom must be avoided.
A suitable amount of manure is frequently introduced into the soil during basic tillage. The treatment must be done correctly because it allows for a good flow of the machine in planting, quick germination, and root development, all of which are required for tuber germination to occur evenly.
It is necessary to add 220-310 pounds of nitrogen, 240-330 pounds of phosphorus, and 360-570 pounds of potassium for a yield of 15 (t/ac) of early potatoes fertilisation, and 310-485 pounds of nitrogen, 240-330 pounds of phosphorus, and 440-770 pounds of potassium for a yield of 15 (t/ac) of late potatoes fertilisation. It is necessary to bring plenty of nutrients into the soil in order to maximise potato production, so organic-mineral fertiliser intake is recommended.
Manure is the most commonly used organic potato fertiliser, and it is usually introduced into the soil in the amount of 10-15 (t/ac) during autumn-winter ploughing. All macro- (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and microelements are found in manure (copper, zinc, manganese, etc.).
The beneficial properties of organic manure are manifested in the increase of the soil’s humus component and the faster warming of the soil in early spring when higher temperatures are required for the growth and development of tuber sprouts. Potatoes are rarely supplemented, so all necessary nutrients are added to the basic fertilisation because, depending on the variety, plants use almost all of the nutrients they require between 50 and 80 days after planting. It is unnecessary to feed them later.
Planting and Sowing:
Healthy, undamaged tubers weighing about 1.7-2 oz should be set aside for planting. The crown and the umbilical part of the tuber are distinguished. The tuber connects the umbilical part to the stolon, and the crown has buds that can grow into a stem, lateral stalks, and stolons.
Tubers must be cut in such a way that each cut piece (fraction) has at least 2-3 buds. Smaller cut pieces (fractions) are planted at a distance of about 10 inches, medium tubers at a distance of 12-14 inches, and large tubers at a distance of 18-20 inches.
It is recommended that the germination process be done in the light rather than darkness for higher and better yields. The inclination is harmed by direct sunlight. A short day (6-12 hours) is essential for sprouting and subsequent plant growth and development. Germination takes 35-60 days on average, depending on the variety. When folding, the ideal humidity of the air is 85-90%.
Germination occurs in well-ventilated rooms and on shelves in boxes or perforated plastic bags. During the inclination, the tubers are moved (rotated) once or twice to ensure that they are all equally exposed to light. Because most productive germs form on the top, they should be turned upwards. When the soil temperature rises above 45 °F, the potatoes are planted. Planting too early in cold, moist soil extends the period between planting and sprouting, and the crop is frequently thinned.
Plantation care during production includes inter-row cultivation, covering, and weed and disease control. The primary goal of inter-row cultivation is to provide the plant with the best possible air-to-air relationships, soil tillage, and weed plant destruction after planting.
Row crop cultivation is performed immediately after crop emergence in light soils, and it is recommended that one cultivation be performed before crop emergence in heavier soils. The number of cultivations should be adapted to the production agroecological conditions.
Pruning is done at a plant height of 6-8 inches to allow the root system and stolons to form tubers that can grow on multiple floors. Tilting should be done at the right time and at the right height of the plant, as later rattles can damage the plant.
Potato tubers are removed from the soil when they are slightly detached from the stolon and their skin has hardened enough to prevent peeling during removal. Chemical treatment is recommended for faster drying if the above-ground part of the plant is preserved and of high mass.
Potato harvesters and regular harvesters are now used to harvest potatoes. Harvesters are typically single or double-row harvesters who separate potato tubers from the ground, sort them by size and place them in a container or transport vehicle. Small potatoes are harvested with a hoe and plough, while larger crops are harvested with a harvester and a combine, which can be self-propelled or towed by a tractor.
After treatment, the potatoes should be cooled to the appropriate storage temperature. Each day, the temperature is gradually reduced from 34 to 36 °F. Seed potatoes are cooled and stored at 35-40 °F, industrial potatoes at 3-4 °F, table potatoes at 40-45 °F for up to three months, and industrial potatoes at 37-40 °F for up to six months. Temperatures of 39-41°F and relative humidity of 92-95% are ideal for long-term storage of table (consumable) potatoes.
Immediately the following extraction, screening is used to separate the old “maternal,” damaged, diseased, and inclined tubers. In cellars, pantries, and special floor storage units with compartments, the potatoes are kept at the optimal storage temperature.
Continuous tuber control and ventilation with outside warm air at 53-64 °F and high relative humidity of 85-95% are required during storage. Due to the spread of the disease, it is not recommended to raise the temperature above 70 °F. Tubers are “treated” throughout the warehouse filling process, which typically takes 2-3 weeks.