Choosing Seed Potato
This year we are able to offer elite II seed potatoes. It is not every year that this is an option. So I want to tell you a bit about them...
Elite II seed potatoes are grown in tuber units and inspected throughout growing for visible symptoms of disease. They are grown from Elite I seed potatoes which are grown from true potato seeds (not seed potatoes). They are examined microscopically and serologically for any trace of bacterial ring rot, potato wart/canker pathogens, golden nematodes, viruses and other diseases. Elite II seed potatoes are the highest grade commercially available.
So what? Why does this matter?
Can't you just... plant the small potatoes you saved last fall?
Of course you can. They'll very likely grow. But there's a high risk of transmitting diseases from saved seed to the next crop and they will have an inferior yield in comparison to certified seed potato. The further from a true potato seed (TPS), the weaker the genetics - which impacts yield and resistance to disease.
There's also the matter of best storage methods - how well did you store your seed potatoes? Seed potatoes have a physiological age. Seed potatoes stored in hot, stressful environment are considered "older" then those stored in cooler environments with the correct humidity.
Young seed potato will sprout from an "apical end" or in one spot rather then having sprouts coming out in all directions. Having one sprout on a seed potato means that sprout will benefit from the full energy in that potato to start its growth and not have to vie for space against its "sibling" sprouts. Youth = vitality.
Many people will use for this reason "seed potato pieces" - cutting up largest potatoes with multiple eyes but that only solves one of the issues AND presents the issue that breaking the skin of a potato means it will be more susceptible to disease and rot.
We don't claim to be experts but...
Starting with a low quality seed means you're already writing off a certain percentage of your possible yield regardless of how well you've amended your soil, what fertilizers you choose, or what other measures you take to protect it from disease.
Why not give yourself the best chance when it's available to you? Your best results will come from Elite II seed potatoes.
How many seed potatoes do you need?
Basic rule is one square foot per seed potato and there's approximately 10 seed potatoes to a pound. We sell them in 5 pound bags for $5 - thus one bag is sufficient to sow 50 square feet of ground - not including your trenches.
A factor to consider is whether you want full sized potatoes if your aim is small potatoes, plant them closer together and allow for 1.5 lbs per 10 feet square.
We put our our seed potatoes one foot apart in rows 27" wide. This allows us space to hill up our potatoes... perhaps growing and harvesting might need to be a whole other post in the future to avoid going on too long here.
We also like to place our seed potatoes in their trench, on top of a bed of kelp for an extra growing boost and highly recommend trying it! We could see the size difference in rows right next to each other where one had kelp, and one did not. You can see this in the picture below! When using fertilizers 6-12-12 is the choice for potatoes.
Types of Elite II seed potatoes on pre-order right now:
(click the name to be brought to the product page)
Atlantics are a high yielding dry mid-season variety. They do best with consistent watering, and thus sandy, dry soils should be avoided. Atlantics are the standard for potato chip quality in Canada and are also make excellent French fries. They’re a good choice for boiling or baking as well.
Blue Pride are a medium high yielding mid-season variety. Smooth blue purple skin is their trade mark, with some blue veins within. They’re a good choice for boiling and are an excellent storage variety.
Chieftain is a high yielding, widely adapted, mid-season variety with bright red skin. Does best with higher soil moisture to obtain full size. Good to excellent for boiling with good storability. Excellent for making French fries.
Gold Rush is a high yielding mid-season variety with very good resistance to hollow heart, caused by inconsistent watering. Yellow skinned with very white flesh. Excellent for baking and boiling, with good storability. Freshly harvested gold rush are also very good for making French fries.
To more fully explore seed potato regulation in Newfoundland and Labrador: https://www.assembly.nl.ca/Legislation/sr/regulations/rc960024.htm