Potatoes are produced from seed potatoes which should be from certified virus free plants and ideally the size of a hen’s egg. Before planting they should be chitted to produce small, strong shoots.
Chitting: Place the seed potatoes in egg boxes or seed trays, eyed end up, and keep in a light, frost-free room for about six weeks to allow the shoots to develop.
Potatoes be grown in any soil preferably in a sunny spot. Dig over the soil in the Autumn and add manure or compost. Never add lime. Don’t grow on land where potatoes have been grown within past two seasons.
There are three types of potatoes; first earlies, second earlies and maincrop.
First Earlies provide new potatoes suitable for salads some examples are Foremost, Rocket, Home Guard and Maris Bard. Plant out during late March, 12ins apart in rows 24ins apart. Lift once flowers are fully open; usually June or July. First Earlies ideally should not be stored, lift when small and treat as new potatoes.
Second Earlies fill in the gap between the first earlies and the main crop, some examples are Charlotte, Anya, Maris Peer and Wilja. Plant early to mid April 12ins apart in rows 24ins apart. Lift once flowers are fully open; usually July or August. As First Earlies, Second Earlies ideally should not be stored, lift when small and treat as new potatoes.
Main Crop can be used straight from the ground or can be stored for use over Winter, some examples are e.g. Maris Piper, King Edward, Desiree and Pink Fir Apple. Plant early to mid April 15ins apart in rows 30ins apart. Wait until the stems have withered then cut the stems to the ground, wait 10 days then lift the potatoes. Usually ready August to eat immediately or leave until September or early October before storing. Leave to dry out in the sun then place in a wooden box and leave in a frost-free shed until needed. They should last until Spring.
For all varieties; when the stems are about 9ins tall pile loose earth up around the stems to leave a couple of inches above the soil. Keep earthing-up, a little at a time, until the stems stop growing. This earthing-up helps to stop the potatoes going green.
Ensure that the crop are kept well watered during dry weather and to avoid problems next year ensure the whole crop is removed from the soil.
- Aphid – plant is infested with greenfly – spray at first sign of attach – there is no prevention
- Blackleg – blackened stems at and below ground level, leaves turn yellow and wilt – there is no treatment, to prevent do not plant soft or rotten seed tubers and don’t cut tubers
- Capsid Bug – small brown spots in leaves, later turn into holes – spray if attack is bad, will not affect yield – there is no prevention
- Common Scab – ragged-edged scurfy patches, only on the skin, the flesh is not affected – there is no treatment – to prevent buy healthy seed tubers and do not Lime
- Dry Rot – shrunken area with white pustules occur during storage – there is no treatment – to prevent rotate crops and ensure tubers are sound before storing and handle carefully
- Frost – black stems or yellow patches on leaves – there is no treatment – to prevent cover if frost is expected
- Gapping – seed potatoes do not develop shoots – there is no treatment – to prevent buy healthy seed tubers and ensure they are kept in a frost-free location
- Gangrene – dark brown depressions on the surface of the tuber – there is no treatment – to prevent store only sound tubers and keep air and frost-free
- Hollow Heart – hollow centre of tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent keep well watered during dry spells
- Leaf Roll Virus – leaves are rolled upwards and become hard and brittle – there is no treatment – to prevent buy healthy seed tubers and spray to control the virus-carrying aphids
- Mosaic Virus – Yellow or pale green mottling over the surface of the leaf – there is no treatment – to prevent Buy healthy seed tubers. Spray to control the virus-carrying aphids
- Megnesium Deficiency – yellowing between the veins of the leaves which turns brown and brittle, stunted growth – to treat apply MultiTonic and spray with Fillip – to prevent feed regularly during the growing season using a fertiliser with magnesium
- Potato Blight – brown patches on the leaves with white mould on the underside of each spot, can destroy all the foliage, grey patches below the skin – there is no treatment – to prevent buy healthy seed tubers and spray with Dithane in July and repeat every fortnight if the weather is damp, keep earthed up
- Potato Cyst Eelworm – weak and stunted plants, small tubers produced – there is no treatment – to prevent rotate crops, don’t grow potatoes or tomatoes on infected land for at least six years
- Powdery Scab – round patches with raised margins on the skin – there is no treatment – to prevent rotate crops
- Rosy Rustic Moth – hollow stems causing plants to die down early – there is no treatment – to prevent rotate crops
- Splitting – deep cracks on surface of tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent do not store, keep plants well watered during dry spells
- Slugs – large holes in the tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent don’t add too much manure and lift tubers as soon as they mature, keep the area free of rubbish
- Spraing – curved lines in the flesh – there is no treatment – to prevent rotate crops
- Soft Rot – soft, evil-smelling flesh – there is no treatment – to prevent store only sound tubers and keep dry
- Spindly Sprouts – thin shoots – to treat stand tubers in a light cool place – to prevent buy healthy seed tubers and ensure they are sprouted in a light, frost-free location
- Soft Tubers – soft and rubbery tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent water well during drought conditions
- Wireworm – orange, shiny larvae produce tunnels in the flesh of tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent rake Chlorophos into the soil before planting and lift tubers as soon as they are mature
- Wart Disease – black warty outgrowths on tubers – there is no treatment – to prevent only plant immune varieties on infected land