As you prepare your potato seed to plant this spring, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Preparing your seed and making sure you’re planting the right variety for your area can help optimize your potato crop. Here are a few things to keep in mind for spring planting, from Steven Johnson, crops specialist with the University of Maine’s presentation at the Ontario Potato Conference in Guelph, Ont. in March.
- You need to know the potato seed variety you are growing. “When new varieties come into an area, how they’re fertilized, how they’re planted, how they’re handled, how they’re cooked, size of seed piece, eye distribution. This is really critical that your local area needs to get looked at before you start.”
- Some varieties don’t allow you to cut the seed before planting.
- “Understanding what the variety is and how to handle it is very critical.”
- Your seed should be warm when you plant it. Putting cold seed into warm ground can cause condensation on tubers.
- Storage systems can be used to warm seed with air handling systems
- If you warm seed in January or February, pre-cut it and let it cool back down, you’ve added multiple stresses to it and “you’re probably pushing it further than you want.”
- “If the seed’s been de-sprouted, if it’s been cut — all of these things add to stress” to it.
- This can cause fusarium development on seed.
- Cutting is part of optimizing stand emergence. “The more efficient your seed and the better your seed cutters will be. And when the seed cutters cut more precisely, it’s going to plant more precisely and not have multiple seed pieces going in.”
- Undersides and slivers should be removed from cut seed.
- Seed cutters should be disinfested and calibrated.
- Seeds should be cut in a uniform, consistent cut. The size of cut depends on the variety of seed you’re using.
- Fertilizer placement is key, it’s about “getting the fertilizer right. It isn’t a rush, it takes time.”