- Cooking tubers for planting
- Warming up
- Alternative breeding methods for potatoes
- Seedling from seedlings
- Growing potatoes from seeds
- Varietal variety
Potatoes are an important strategic foodstuff widely used to prepare delicious, healthy and high-calorie meals. In the article we will talk about the main methods of preparing tubers for planting, consider alternative methods of reproduction and touch on the issue of varietal diversity..
If you follow certain fairly simple rules, it is not difficult to grow a good potato crop. This culture is easily adaptable to various climatic and soil conditions. However, there are a number of recommendations, the observance of which is mandatory – this is the right choice of variety, watering and feeding at a certain time, protecting potatoes from pests and diseases, and properly preparing tubers for planting. So, first things first.
Cooking tubers for planting
Preparing potato tubers in advance is the first step towards a good harvest. Various preparation methods, which we will discuss below, allow starting important biological processes in tubers – the formation of sprouts and the development of a healthy root system, thanks to which the potatoes grow faster, the seedlings are healthy and strong. In addition, during the preparation process, you can easily identify unproductive and diseased tubers (the presence of rot, thin filamentous sprouts, the absence of seedlings) – as a result, the seedlings are friendly, and the beds without “bald spots”.
Experts identify three main methods of preparing potato tubers for planting: germination, wilting and warming. In addition, pre-sowing treatment of tubers is also used immediately before planting..
Germination can be dry, wet and combined. The main goal of this method is to obtain strong healthy shoots that accelerate the emergence of seedlings, which, in turn, contributes to a significant increase in yield..
The average duration of dry germination is 20 to 40 days. The potatoes intended for planting are taken out of the cellar and evenly (in no more than two layers) are laid out in a warm room. If space permits, then it is better to do this right on the floor, if not, then you can use boxes or boxes. The containers can be stacked on top of each other, but in order for the tubers to receive an even amount of light, the boxes and boxes must be constantly rearranged.
When germinating dry, it is very important to observe the temperature and light conditions. In the first ten days, the room temperature is maintained at 18–20 degrees to awaken the eyes. Then it is reduced to 10-14 degrees so that the sprouts do not stretch out and outgrow.
Dry germination lighting serves two important functions. Good lighting promotes the development of strong, stocky shoots with root buds. If there is not enough light, then the sprouts stretch out and weaken. In addition, solanine forms in the tubers in the light (that is, they turn green). This substance is toxic to humans – it is forbidden to eat green potatoes. But for planting material, solanine is very useful. With its help, tubers acquire a stable immunity to various diseases and become less susceptible to adverse environmental conditions. When the shoots are 3 cm long, the potatoes are ready for planting..
It should be noted that large tubers weighing 60–80 grams are best suited for seed purposes. They form a powerful root system faster and more easily tolerate adverse conditions..
The essence of this preparation method is that the tubers laid in a container are sprinkled with moist material, which can be peat, sawdust or humus, and kept in dark rooms with a temperature of 12-15 degrees. In this case, it is important not to forget to keep the substrate moist..
The advantage of wet germination is that the tubers form not only sprouts, but also roots, which ensures quick emergence after planting. This method of preparation allows you to get sprouts of the desired length faster, after 12-15 days.
With wet germination, it is important not to miss the deadline, otherwise the seedlings outgrow, intertwine with each other, as a result of which they are easily damaged when planting. If suddenly for some reason it is not possible to plant on time, the temperature in the room should be reduced so that the growth of seedlings slows down.
This method takes advantage of dry and wet germination. First, potato tubers are germinated for 7-10 days in a warm, bright room at a temperature of 16-18 degrees, then they are transferred to a container, sprinkled with a wet substrate, keeping for another ten days until small roots appear at the base of the seedlings. Thus, the tubers accumulate solanine in themselves and develop a powerful root system, which contributes to an increase in yield by 15-20 percent..
This method of preparing potato tubers for planting will help those gardeners who, for certain reasons, do not have time to carry out the germination procedure.
Tubers must be laid out in one layer in a warm room (temperature not less than 16 degrees), without lighting, and left for 7-10 days. Wilting helps to speed up the awakening of the eyes and the emergence of seedlings. With this method of preparation, the tubers lose some of the moisture, however, special enzymes accumulate in them, which contribute to the formation of a powerful root system and accelerate the growth of shoots..
This preparation method is the fastest and will help those who do not have time with germination or wilting. If you plant potatoes without preparation at all, then it will take a long time to sprout, and sometimes you may not wait for shoots at all. You can avoid such troubles by warming up the tubers intended for planting at least 3-4 days before planting.
In this case, you should pay attention to the following: if your potatoes are stored in a solid cold storage, then any physiological processes in the tubers are extremely slowed down – it is due to this that it is stored for a long time. Before planting, these processes should be accelerated, but this should be done smoothly, since a sharp temperature drop can cause severe stress and harm the future harvest..
To do this, in the first two days, the tubers are laid out in a room at a temperature of 10-15 degrees, and two days before planting, the temperature must be increased (best up to 23-25). For warming up, you can use both light and completely dark rooms..
Alternative breeding methods for potatoes
Most gardeners are used to propagating potatoes with tubers, or, in extreme cases, cutting them into several parts. However, there are other methods of potato propagation that will come in handy when there is a shortage of planting material..
Seedling from seedlings
You can grow potato seedlings from excess or untimely seedlings. For this, healthy shoots 4-6 cm long with clearly visible root buds are useful. Carefully separate each sprout from the tuber and plant it in a moist, pre-prepared substrate, which is best used as ripe humus (you can use peat, ready-made soil mixture for seedlings, or, in extreme cases, sawdust). The sprout is buried in the substrate 2/3 every six centimeters. Water the seedlings with warm water (18 degrees) as they dry up, the recommended air temperature when growing potato seedlings from sprouts is 16-20 degrees.
When the shoots reach a height of 8-10 cm and produce 6-7 leaves, and the stem thickness is 4-6 mm in diameter, the seedlings can be planted in open ground. Before planting, it is well watered and chosen very carefully so as not to damage young plants. Seedlings that have not grown to the specified size can be left in the box until they reach the required size.
Growing potatoes from seeds
Practice shows that even if you select the best tubers for planting in the fall, all the same, after a few years, the variety you love so much degenerates, more and more pathogens of fungal diseases accumulate in the tubers, the taste is greatly deteriorated.
This situation can be corrected in two ways – either once every 3-4 years, buy elite tubers in specialized stores, or grow varietal potatoes from seeds.
Growing from seeds has several undeniable advantages:
- seeds are much cheaper than tubers;
- no special storage space and conditions are required;
- seed-grown potatoes are highly resistant to most diseases and have excellent yields.
Seeds can be bought at the store, or you can prepare yourself. In summer, after flowering on most varieties of potatoes, berries are formed, which must be collected in bags made of fabric that allows air to pass through, and hung in a bright room for ripening. Ripe berries brighten and become soft. After that, they should be crushed in a glass container, rinsed well and dried, put in bags and stored until next spring. We talked about how to properly store seeds in the article “How to collect and store seeds to get a good harvest”.
Potato seeds are sown in early April in boxes filled with either ready-made soil mixture from specialized stores, or prepared independently according to the following recipe: 1 part of land (preferably sod), 4 parts of peat, 1 part of rotted mullein or chicken droppings. The planting scheme is as follows: 5 cm between seeds and 10 cm between rows, depth – 0.5 cm. Before sowing, it is recommended to soak the seeds in water for three days. Soaked seeds are best refrigerated overnight and kept at room temperature during the day..
After sowing, the boxes are covered with plastic wrap and placed in a warm place (18–20 degrees). Seedlings appear in 10-12 days. After the seedlings produce 2-3 true leaves, they are dived into peat pots and watered regularly as needed.
Potato seedlings are planted in open ground at the end of May, deepening the seedlings so that a stem with three upper leaves remains on top. To protect young plants from temperature extremes, it is best to cover the bed with polyethylene, which can be removed when the seedlings get stronger and stable warm weather is established. If it is dry outside, the beds should be watered every two to three days, and in order to avoid active growth of weeds, it is best to mulch the soil around with organic material (hay, straw, dry leaves, sawdust).
In the first year, of course, it will not work to get a high yield of potatoes grown from seeds. By autumn, mini-tubers weighing from 20 to 50 grams will grow, which will become an excellent planting material for the next year..
Potatoes are a relatively unpretentious crop, they adapt well to the climatic conditions of your area and to various types of soil. We will talk about the basic agricultural techniques when growing this crop in the next article. However, to get a good harvest, it is best to use regionalized varieties designed specifically for your area of residence. You can get information and purchase planting material of zoned varieties in farms that grow potatoes at a professional level.
If we talk about varieties in general, it should be noted that today there are a great many of them, and the main division is carried out, taking into account the duration of the growing season. According to this principle, potato varieties are divided into five main groups:
- early ripening – vegetation period 50-60 days (Iskra, Prior, Nadezhda, Priekulsky early);
- mid-early – 60–80 days (Nevsky, Estima, Adretta, Detskoselsky);
- mid-season – 80–100 days (Lugovskoy, Dita, Agria, Bronnitsky);
- medium late – 100–120 days (Sotka, Libana, Borka);
- late ripening – over 120 days (Alpinist, Atlant, Belorussky, Vesnyanka).
Naturally, in the northern regions, due to the limited growing season, late-ripening and mid-late varieties cannot be grown. The same applies to the southern regions, but for a different reason – limiting the period from disembarkation to the onset of heat.
In addition to the division according to the growing season, potato varieties are also divided into: resistant to fungal diseases and viruses (late blight, scab), resistant to nematodes. According to the taste and color of tubers, one can distinguish potatoes with white (boiled well), yellow and cream flesh.
So, we decided that proper preparation of tubers is the first step to high yields, and potatoes can be propagated, especially with a lack of planting material, using seedlings or from seeds. In the next article, we will talk about the basic agricultural techniques for growing potatoes and discuss alternative methods of cultivating this popular vegetable crop..