How to grow Potatoes A Complete Tutorial

How to grow Potatoes A Complete Tutorial
How to grow Potatoes A Complete Tutorial

A herbaceous perennial, the potato plant (Solanum tuberosum) yields edible tuberous crops that form underground. It belongs to the Solanaceae family. The plant prefers fertile, well-drained, somewhat acidic soils. Towards the end of their growing season, potato plants produce red, white, pink, purple, or blue flowers (3-4 months after planting). The plant can grow up to 20 inches tall (50cm). The majority of the roots in the upper 2 feet (60 cm) of soil are found in the potato's very short root system. Three to twenty-five potatoes can be produced by each healthy potato plant.

Contrary to popular perception, a potato plant may produce potatoes without bees or any other pollinator. The plant still requires pollinators, though, in order for the flowers to develop "real seeds." Potato plants yield little green fruits with actual seeds after flowering. It is possible to grow potatoes from real seeds, but different potatoes with varied traits are the end product. One of the top goals of potato growers is uniformity, which is why the majority of them prefer planting seed potatoes, which result in clones of the mother type. Although they are chosen for having desired qualities, seed potatoes are simply regular potatoes, just like the ones we eat. Also, they are examined for the presence of certain disorders. Like tomatoes, peppers, and other crops, potatoes are perennial plants by nature. Nonetheless, we grow potatoes as annual plants since they must be dug out, uprooted, and so destroyed in order to be harvested.

 How to grow Potatoes

In a nutshell, during the late winter and early spring (February to April in most locations) or the summer, we sow potato seeds in "hills" in sunny areas of our field (July-August in most areas). We can typically harvest the potatoes that have grown underground three to four months after sowing. We plow deeply after the harvest to obliterate the remaining plants. In general, it is not advisable to grow potatoes in the same field for more than two years straight since the soil will be exhausted and the risk of disease spread will be greatly increased.

Initially, we buy the potato seeds. Choosing certified disease-free potato seeds from reliable vendors is a smart idea. Although they are chosen for having desired qualities, seed potatoes are simply regular potatoes, just like the ones we eat. Also, they are sterilized or examined for the presence of certain diseases. Alternately, we can plant potatoes that we've already purchased from the grocery store, but this needs expert selection, and the amount and final weight of the potatoes we get will be significantly smaller. The majority of farmers and gardeners fragment the potato seeds (there are pros and cons in cutting the potatoes). Make sure each component has at least one eye bud. Larger potato tubers (diameter > 45 mm) can typically be sliced, whilst smaller tubers are planted intact. The seed potato pieces are kept in a dry location for two days. The flesh (surface) of the potato that we have cut should then typically have a crust on it. We are then prepared to begin planting.

Before planting seed potatoes, it is required to deeply till the soil and remove any pebbles. "Hills" are used to cultivate potatoes. First, we create a channel or trench that is 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) deep. The amount of potato seeds we have will determine how long the trench is. The distance between the first and second trenches must be at least 28 inches (70 cm). We place the potato sets (pieces) inside the trench at least 10 inches (25 cm) apart from one another. After that, we level out our field by filling in the trenches with dirt. Therefore, by making hills, we must "dirt up" our crops. We take this action because growing potatoes on a level surface will not promote the health and yield of our potato plants. We can also identify the precise location of our sowing rows by earthing up the soil in the trenches. The space between grooves is frequently used by farmers as an irrigation channel. As a result, we must hill them by piling soil around the base of the plants at a height of about 4 inches (10 cm) from each side of the row.

We typically see our healthy, fully developed potato plants two months after planting. We might need to re-earth our crops at that point to keep any potatoes from breaking the surface and becoming exposed to the sun. The potatoes will probably turn green and become unfit for human food if they are exposed to sunlight. If necessary, we can also think about fertilizer application at that time (two months following planting), whether it be foliar or soil-based (it depends on the field – every field is different and has different needs). By carefully examining the shape and color of leaves, we must additionally look for pests and illnesses. Potato has specific water needs, although the frequency of irrigation depends on your field's evapotranspiration and climate. You may need to irrigate your plants once a week to once a month during the growing season if there are no rains in your area.

Growing Potatoes for Profit

If done properly and on a scaleable basis, potato farming can be a reliable source of income, so long as you have access to fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5, to 6.7. Direct sunshine exposure is also crucial. The two most crucial elements for the success of a potato farm are potato seeds and soil quality. Climate plays a role as well. The minimum necessary nighttime temperature for tuber start is 59°F (15°C). 15 to 18°C) is the ideal soil temperature for normal tuber growth.

Almost half of total expenses were spent on potato seed purchases. For planting and harvesting potatoes, you may also require well-rotted compost, fertilizers, and of course, hired farm equipment (it is labor intensive to plant or dig up the potatoes manually on a large scale). The extended storage time (up to a year), which allows growers (who can store potatoes) flexibility and a wide range of alternatives in terms of price and regional distribution of their production, is a significant benefit of potato agriculture.

Soil Preparation and Soil Requirements for Potatoes

In general, it is not advisable to grow potatoes in the same field for two years straight since the soil will be exhausted and the risk of disease spread will be greatly increased. "Potato - Beans - Corn - Wheat - Potato, etc." is a typical crop rotation plan for potato growers. On soils where potatoes have recently been harvested, alfalfa or other leguminous plants are also grown. In potato fields around the US, alfalfa is frequently grown.

The consistency of the final product has been proven to be significantly influenced by good soil preparation. In loose, loamy soil, potato plants can grow and develop more readily. There are two strategies to improve the state of your soil. Adding well-rotted compost two months before to planting potatoes is the first step. The second involves ploughing the plants two months before to planting potatoes and sowing a cover crop (leguminous) as green manure throughout the fall. You might need to take corrective measures and seek advice from a certified agronomic if your soil has been continually eroded by potato farming.

It takes a lot of soil preparation to grow potatoes. 2-3 months prior to planting seed potatoes, in the winter (December), the basic soil preparation for potato cultivation begins. During that time, farmers frequently plow extensively to remove weeds and rocks and prepare the soil for the seeds by making it soft, well-drained, and well-aerated. Before the soil is in an appropriate state, three plowing sessions, regular harrowing, and rolling are typically required.

By adding a comment or a picture of your potato soil improvement techniques, you can enhance this page.

Potato Planting Seeding Rate and Plant Spacing

Initially, we buy the potato seed. Only certified disease-free seed potatoes from reputable vendors must be purchased. We open the bag two days prior to planting and examine the tubers within. Tubers that are damp or rotten need to be removed right away. The majority of potato seed tubers are 45–60 mm in diameter. It could be necessary to divide these tubers into smaller pieces, known as "sets." Typically, tubers with a diameter of 28 to 35 mm can be planted whole without needing to be chopped.

A contentious technique involves cutting the seed potatoes into smaller pieces. According to its proponents, if you take all the necessary care for hygiene, your productivity might wind up being tripled. A huge tube can be divided into three smaller sections, each of which will typically result in one plant and have at least one eye. This big tube would only yield one plant if we choose to plant it whole rather than cut it into sections. Hence, reducing the huge seed potatoes boosts yield without a doubt. With this procedure, the disease will, however, swiftly spread from one contaminated tuber to all the others via the knife or scissor that we use to chop the potatoes. Consequently, agronomists and potato seed companies occasionally urge farmers in some nations not to cut the seed potatoes and to instead plant them whole (where there is indication that a potato seed lot may be infected). After cutting each tube, we must always dunk our knife or razor blade into a potent antibacterial solution (consult a licensed agronomist).

For tuber diameters of 45 to 60 mm, the suggested potato seeding rate is 2 to 2.5 tons per hectare. Remember that 1 hectare is 2,47 acres, which is equal to 10,000 square meters, and that 1 ton is equal to 1000 kilograms, which is equal to 2.200 pounds. The suggested potato seeding rate is 1.5 to 1. 8 tons per hectare for tuber diameters 28 to 35 mm. The potato seeds are seeded using tractors-mounted automated potato planting devices. These devices are capable of doing multiple tasks. They plow the ground and sow the seeds at the necessary depth, leaving the right amount of space between each row of potato seeds and between rows. The acceptable distance between rows is 28 to 36 inches, while the recommended spacing inside the row is 10-15 inches (25-38 cm) (70-90cm). With this design, the number of plants per hectare will range from 25.000 to 60.000. For late-emerging seed, bigger plant populations are often advised.

The following equation can be used to determine our within-row spacing in order to have the necessary plant population:

SS = 100.000/(PP*RW),

PP stands for plant population (in thousands plants per hectare)

Row Width in centimeters

Seed Spacing in a Row in Centimeters.

Imagine our row width is 90 cm and we want to grow 55.000 plants per hectare. In this instance, the formula SS= 100.000/(55*90) = 20,2 cm is solved. Hence, in order to have 55.000 plants per hectare, we must space the seeds within the row at a distance of 20,2 cm.

Potato Fertilizer Requirements

Before using any fertilizer or tillage techniques, you must first take into account the soil quality of your field through semiannual or annual soil testing. No two fields are alike, and nobody can provide you fertilization advice without considering the soil test results, tissue analysis, and crop history of your particular field. Nevertheless, we shall outline the most popular potato fertilization strategies that a large number of farmers employ.

Large amounts of nutrients are often needed by potato plants in order to generate a satisfactory crop. Currently, farmers apply 0 to 5 applications of fertilizer over the 3–4-month growth of the plants. Usually farmers apply a 15-15-15 mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium at the same time as planting (we can add soil fertilizer in most potato planting machines). This is particularly true for fields where vegetables have been grown over the past six months. By thickening the outer cell walls, the potassium in N-P-K 15-15-15 promotes the formation of sturdy stems and offers some disease and insect tolerance.

As a general rule, the first two months are when potato plants require more nitrogen (N-P-K 34-0-0). (when the foliar part of the plant develops rapidly). The plants require additional potassium (12-12-17 or 14-7-21) from the second month until two weeks before harvest in order to produce well-shaped potatoes. In the second or third month, many farmers frequently add foliar fertilizer to these, particularly when their potato plants have been found to be deficient in micronutrients.

A typical fertilization plan includes well-rotted compost added two months prior to planting as well as four major fertilizing applications: We add 0,2 tons of 20-20-20 per hectare 30 days after planting. We apply 0.5 tons of 14-7-21+2MgO per hectare 55 days after planting. We apply 0.5 tons of 14-7-21+2MgO per hectare 65 days after planting. Finally, we reapply 0,5 tons of 14-7-21+2MgO per acre 80–90 days after planting (depending on how early the variety is). Remember that 1 hectare is 2,47 acres, which is equal to 10,000 square meters, and that 1 ton is equal to 1000 kilograms, which is equal to 2.200 pounds.

Another typical fertilization schedule calls for four major treatments, the first of which is made at the same time as planting and the next three every 25 to 28 days. Farmers use alternatively 0,5 tons of 12-12-17+2MgO and 0,5 tons of K2O per hectare under this program.

Finally, some farmers use biostimulators, which are chemicals (mainly foliar) that enhance fruit development and flowering, boost output, and assist plants in overcoming various stresses.

These are simply prevalent patterns, though, and you should conduct your own study before using them. Each industry has distinct requirements. Before using any fertilizing technique, it is essential to check the pH and soil nutrients. You can speak with a certified agronomic in your area.

Potato Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems

Potato Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems
Potato Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems

The labor-intensive drip irrigation method, sprinkler systems, overhead rain cannons, and boom irrigation are the irrigation methods most frequently employed in potato farming.

The FAO states that depending on climate, the crop water requirements (ETm) for a 120–150 day crop are 500–700 mm for high yields. In general, potato plants' water requirements are lower during their early stages of growth and gradually rise as they mature and reach their later phases of tuber growth. Depending on rainfall, many farmers irrigate up to twice a week for winter cultivation, but they typically irrigate more frequently during droughts. Farmers should irrigate more frequently in sandy soils than in heavy soils. It is critical that the soil always be moist. The total amount of soil water should not be reduced by more than 30 to 50% in order to maximize yields. However be aware that excessive irrigation causes erosion, disease susceptibility, water loss, increased pumping energy costs, nitrogen leaching, and lower crop yields. Conversely, plants under water stress are more prone to illness.

Potato Pests and Diseases

Regrettably, several pests and diseases frequently affect potato plants all over the world. Crop rotation and tillage are the first defenses against diseases and pests. The second is to only buy potato seeds that have been verified to be disease-free.

For American growers, the Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) is a serious issue. Beetles steadily skeletonize crops by eating their foliage. In the spring, adult beetles emerge. Larvae can be defeated by Bacillus thuringiensis, although multiple applications are required (ask a licensed agronomist in your area).

Early Blight The oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans is responsible for late blight. Since late blight may spread quickly from field to field in the correct weather, it has been characterized to as a "community disease." When the weather is cool and moist, asexual spores can easily fly on the breeze and quickly contaminate nearby fields. If left unchecked, Phytophthora infestans infections can have disastrous effects on a potato or tomato crop and have the power to entirely devastate a field in a matter of days. However, this virus is difficult to control and eradicate since it can survive for several months in the earth. About Late Blight, read more here.

Potato fields can also be destroyed by the potato virus Y. Mild mosaic to severe foliar necrosis and plant death are only a few of its indications. Find out more about the Potato Virus Y here.

Potato Harvest Yield & Storage

Potato Harvest Yield & Storage
Potato Harvest Yield & Storage

"Killing" is a pre-harvesting method that is frequently utilized. By ceasing all irrigation, using machinery, and/or spraying pesticides, many farmers "kill" the potato plants, actually killing the tops of the plants. The potatoes were left in the ground for a further 10 to 14 days after the plants were killed before being harvested. This results in thicker potato skin, which is favoured by some markets for a variety of reasons (the potatoes can be transported with a lower risk of bruising etc.).

The potatoes can be harvested 2.5 to 4 months after they are planted. Modern tractors with built-in potato harvesting equipment are used to harvest potatoes. The harvesting equipment uses a share to raise the potatoes out of the bed. Transferred onto a sequence of webs, which eventually allow the potatoes to be separated from the alien substances, include soil, dirt, rocks, and potatoes.

A good output for your first year of potato cultivation would be 25 tons per hectare or 10 tons per acre (22.000 lbs. per acre). After years of effort, seasoned farmers may produce yields of between 40 and 70 tons per hectare, or between 16 and 28 tons per acre. Remember that 1 hectare is equal to 2,47 acres, or 10,000 square meters, and that 1 ton is equal to 1000 kilograms, or 2,200 lbs.

After being harvested, potatoes are kept in a dark, damp area that is not too cold (40°F/4.4°C). In general, potatoes can be stored properly for several months. Huge structures designed specifically for storing potatoes are used by commercial potato growers as storage facilities. The temperature and humidity in the pile are maintained as uniformly as possible by specialized air circulation systems.
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