GROWING PERFECT POTATOES

In the garden it is useful to grow only early potatoes, or mainly earlies with smaller areas of late cultivars. It is important to use only virus-free tubers for planting, or certified seed may be purchased every year, or, once-grown seed may be used, I.e. tubers selected from last year’s crop which should- have been from certified seed.

VARIETIES

First Earlies Arran Pilot’

‘Maris Bard’

Pentland Javelin’

‘Duke of York’ Kidney-shaped, white flesh. Heavy cropper.

Oval, white flesh. The earliest. Scab resistant, resistance to viruses also high.

Oval, white flesh. Heavy cropper. Resistant to scab and some eelworm.

Kidney shaped, yellow flesh.

Second Earlies ‘Maris Peer’

Wilja Oval, white flesh. Good cropper, some resistance to both scab and blight.

Oval, pale yellow flesh. High yields.

Main Crop ‘Majestic’

King Edward’

‘Desiree’ Kidney-shaped, white flesh. Good for chip making.

Kidney-shaped, creamy flesh. Good cooking qualities.

Oval, pale yellow flesh. Very heavy cropper and grows in all soil types.

Soil and Site

Crops will be light if grown in heavily-shaded spots or where the soil is very light. Potatoes do best in deep, well-dug soil; this also makes subsequent cultivations easier. Heaviest yield will be gained from well-cultivated soil with plenty of well-rotted organic matter dug in, plus an application of a general fertiliser, e.g., Growmbre at 68 gm/sq.m (2 oz/sq.yd).

Sprouting

Seed shed tubers (hen’s egg-sized) should be set up to

sprout in light, frost-free conditions in February.

Sprouting seed gives an earlier crop. Check for aphids as

shoots develop.

Planting

1. Earlies. Plant in early April, in drills 12.5 cm (5 inch) deep. Space tubers 30 cm (1 inch) apart in rows.

2. Main Crop. Plant crop in mid to late April. Allow 67.5 cm (27 inch) between rows and 37.5 cm (15 inch) between tubers.

Routine Work

Cover shoots with soil or straw when an early frost is likely. A top dressing of fertiliser should be given before earthing up. Draw soil up to near tops of shoots when large enough, after first loosening soil between rows if necessary. It is important to have earth over the developing tubers to stop greening.

Harvesting

Dig earlies as required but store main crops in dark, dry, vermin- and frost-proof shed. Allow tubers to dry before storing. Do not store damp or diseased tubers.

PESTS AND DISEASES

Potato cyst Eelworm Cause early dying back of haulm and very poor crops with small tubers. Do not use a site known to be affected for potatoes, tomatoes, peppers or aubergines.

Greenfly They are the vector for virus infections, and colonies should be controlled with an insecticide, e.g. Dimethoate.

Colorado beetle This large, yellowish, black-lined beetle is a notifiable pest. Outbreaks are very rare and notification should be made to MAFF.

DISEASES Potato Blight Spray against blight, especially in a wet summer, using Bordeaux mixture. Repeat 2-3 times if necessary.

Potato Scab Avoid liming just prior to planting potatoes, and add extra organic matter to drills.

Potato Wart Disease Use immune cultivars.

Potato Virus Diseases Use only certified seed.

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