How to Grow Potato – Primer

Adaption

  • Potato, a crop rich in minerals and other food nutrients, grows best in deep well drained, loamy or sandy loam soils with pH ranging from 5.5-6.0.
  • An average temperature of 15-18 °C is essential during its growth period.
  • A rainfall of about 2.5 cm per week evenly distributed through the growing season.

Cultivar Selection

An ideal cultivar is adaptive, high yielding, resistant to common pests and diseases, stable and has low degeneration rate. These qualities, however, can seldom be found in one cultivar. A farmer has to select for the right cultivar that suits his own conditions and needs.

Seed Selection

Good seed quality enhances yield. Healthy plants usually come from healthy seeds. Select seed tubers which are free from insect pests and diseases, full in form, firm and with good sprouts. Choose seed tubers which are not stored for a long time.

The use of certified seeds is best but not always profitable because of their very high price. Farmers who often store tubers for planting from their previous crops should only choose those tubers from healthy plants.
Seed tubers come in different forms from different sources as certified seeds from importers and farmer-cooperators of the Potato Seedgrowers Association; or as clean seeds from other farmers.

CULTURAL MANAGEMENT PRACTICES

Land Preparation

Remove weeds and volunteer plants in the area before plowing. Do the second plowing. Do the second plowing immediately before planting. If the area is recently planted plow only once.

Raised beds are recommended during wet season planting to improve drainage. On the other hand, beds need not be raised during dry season planting.

Fertilization

Just like other crops, proper nutrition is essential in potato production. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) perform vital tasks in the growth and development of the plant.

The required amount of Nitrogen for potato varies from 100-200 kg/ha depending on the purpose of the crop and the type of soil. Seed potatoes require a lower level of nitrogen to maintain a smaller tuber size. High nitrogen application is not desirable because it prolongs the maturity of the crop and mask mild viral symptoms.

Phosphorous contributes to the early development of the crop, early tuberization, and increase in the number of tubers produced per plant. Relatively high rates of P are applied in seed potato field to help reduce virus infection.

Potassium on the other hand, increases the crop’s dry matter content, helps prevent black-spot damage and the blue discoloration after cooking. It also improves the storage quality of potato.

If available, use organic fertilizer to improve the water holding capacity of the soil, enhance aeration, make heavy soils lighter, bind lighter soils and serve as source of other nutrients.

Fertilizer Rate

The general NPK recommendations for table and seed potatoes are 140-140-140 and 120-120-120 kg nutrient/ha, respectively.

Time of Application

Apply organic fertilizers before planting. The crop uses fertilizer more efficiently when applied as basal than when side-dressed after plant emergence. During the dry season, additional yield of 8 t/ha can be obtained when chicken manure and complete fertilizer are applied as basal than when applied 3 weeks after planting.

Fertilizer Placement

Place the fertilizer near the root zones so that plants can easily absorb the nutrients.

Apply the recommended amount of inorganic fertilizer in the furrow or 20 g (2 level tbsp) per hill at planting time. ing time. Cover fertilizer with a thin layer of soil before planting.

Lime Requirements

Liming is necessary in acidic soils (pH5 and below). This increases the availability of nutrients in the soil needed by the crop. The amount of lime to be applied depends on the pH and the type of soil. For different soil types with pH range of 4.00 to 5.00, the rate of application of lime (CaCO3) are as follows: 3.5 -1.5 MT for sandy loam; 4.5 – 2.0 MT for loam; and 6.0-7.5 MT for silty clay loam. Apply at least one month before planting.

Planting

Plant the seedpieces when the soil is either too wet nor too dry. Too wet soil causes seed rotting especially before emergence due to excessive moisture and lack of oxygen. On the other hand, the seedpieces dehydrate easily if sown on dry soil. Plant the tubers on light soils at 8-10 cm deep and on heavy soils at 5-7 cm deep. If planting in heavy soils is followed by heavy rain, loosen the spaces between the seeds with a hoe to allow aeration.

The seeding rate is 6 seedpieces/sq m or 50,000 seedpieces/ha.

Whole seeds at 35-55 mm size are recommended as planting materials for both seed and table potato production. However, in table potato production, seedpieces with a diameter larger than 50 mm may be cut to smaller pieces weighing 40-50 g. Knives used for cutting should be disinfected to avoid the transfer of seedborne disease. Plant the seedpieces on moist soil right after cutting.

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