Potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial nightshade Solanum tuberosum. Potato plant was introduced to Europe in the second half of the 16th century by the Spanish. Now it is cultivated in many regions of the world.
Potato Plant Cultivation Process:
Potato plant grows well in a cool but frost-free growing season. The ideal temperature for potato growing is 45° to 80°F. Hot weather will reduce the number of tubers per plant.
The potato can be grown almost all types of soil, except saline and alkaline soils. The loamy and sandy loam soils rich in organic matter, with good drainage and aeration, are preferred for potato cultivation which assists to the enlargement of the tubers. The ideal soil pH range for potato cultivation is 5.2-6.4.
There are various types of potatoes in the world. The most popular cultivars are Russet Potatoes, White Potatoes, Yellow Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Purple Potatoes, Fingerling Potatoes, Petite Potatoes etc.
Potato is planted in early spring in temperate zones and late winter in warmer regions and grown during the coolest months of the year in hot tropical climates.
Rates of Seeds:
You can implant the seeds about 600 kg per acre depending on the size of seeds.
Mix mercuric chloride with water and dip the saplings into the solution for 12 hours. Mercuric Chloride is not dissolved in cold water, so heat the water for mixing and make it cool for seed treatment.
The potatoes are propagated by tuber. Small tubers are sown to a depth of 5 to 10 cm. Tuber seed should be disease-free, well-sprouted and from 30 to 40 grams each in weight.
The land of potatoes should be cultivated deeply. The soil needs to be harrowed until completely free of weed roots. Plough the land along with frequent harrowing and rolling until the soils become soft, well-drained and well-aerated.
Potatoes are best grown in rows. Dig a trench about 6 inches wide and 8 inches deep with a hoe. Keep the rows about 3 feet apart. Mix the soil with organic compost and spread in the bottom of the trench before planting. Use a sharp knife to cut large potatoes into pieces and make sure that there are at least 2 eyes on each piece.
Cut the potatoes before 1 to 2 days of planting. This will form a protective layer over the cut surface, improving both moisture retention and rot resistance. When shoots appear after 12 to 16 days of planting, use a hoe to fill in the trench with another 3 to 4 inches of soil. After the emerging of potato plants, add organic mulch between the rows to conserve moisture. It will also help to control weed, and cool the soil.
Plant the shoots spacing 70-90 cm between the rows and 25 cm from potato to potato.
Cow dung is better for organic fertilizer. The amount of fertilizer per acre is given below:
|Fertilizer Name||Amount (Kg)|
|Zinc sulfate||5 kg|
Mix dung, half Urea, TSP, MOP, gypsum, and zinc sulfate with the soil during planting time. After 30-35 days of planting, apply the remaining Urea. Apply 80-100 kg magnesium sulfate for acidic soil and 8-10 kg boron for sandy soil in order to get high yields.
First irrigation: It should be given between two rows within 20-25 days of planting. If there is no irrigation system, then cover the soil with water hyacinth.
Second irrigation: Irrigate within 40-45 days of planting seeds.
Third irrigation: Third irrigation should be given within 60-65 days of planting potato seeds.
Remove weeds between the growing plants and at the top of the ridge by using herbicides. The first ridging should be done when the plants are about 15-25 cm high; the second is often done to cover the growing tubers.
Flea Beetle: Flea beetles are tiny, and black or brown. They chew small holes in plant leaves and can do serious damage fast if they attack young plants. Control these pests by crop rotation and maintaining high soil organic matter.
Aphid: It can transmit virus diseases. They suck juices from the leaves and stems of potato plants. Spray insecticidal soap to control this pest.
Tuber Moth: It makes a hole in the potatoes. To control this pest cover the potatoes with ashes, sand, husk etc. Separate the affected potatoes before storage.
Potato Plant Disease Management:
Early Blight: It injures foliage and the affected leaves develop dark brown spot which reduces overall yields. Plant certified seed and mulch with hay to prevent this disease.
Late Blight: It is caused by the downy mildew fungus namely Phytophthora infestans, It turns the leaves brown and black as a result the leaf dies. Plant certified seed and use a potato dust to protect late blight.
Mosaic Virus: mosaic virus curl the potato leaves. It is spread by Aphid.
When the leaves of the potatoes turn into yellow, it indicates that the crop has reached its maturity. You can collect matured potatoes within 100-120 days after planting. Stop irrigation before 2 weeks of harvesting. You can harvest potatoes by using the spading fork. During harvesting, avoid bruising or injured potatoes to control storage diseases. Collect the crops quickly because leaving tubers for too long in the ground increases their exposure to a fungal incrustation called black scurf.
Potato curing helps to extend the storage life. To cure, spread out the unwashed potatoes in seedlings trays or boxes lined with newspapers. Cover the trays with a dark towel to eliminate light but allow air to circulate and let them cure for several weeks in an area that is between 50-60 days.
Potatoes should be stored in a dark environment at about 45˚F to 50˚F. The relative humidity should be around 95% to prevent them from drying out. You can store potatoes in an unheated corner of the basement that stays dark, cool, and performs just like a root cellar. Store unwashed, cured tubers in a dark area in covered boxes or bins with some holes for ventilation.
During the first year of cultivating potatoes, a good yield would be 25 tons per hectare or 10 tons per acre. After years of practice, you can achieve yields from 40 to 70 tons per hectare, or from 16 to 28 tons per acre.
The demand for potato is much more because it is eaten as a staple food in many countries of the world. It is easy to cultivate potatoes so you can take it as a beneficial job.