Potato (Solanumtuberosum) is an essential vegetable crop around the world used as a staple food in many countries that belongs to the family Solanaceae. They are a rich source of starch and contain good amounts of Vitamin-C. Potato is said to be a poor man’s friend.
How to Grow Potatoes
Verities of potato:
Potato can be grown in a wide range of soils, ranging from sandy loam to silt loam, loam, and clay soil. Well-drained sandy loam soils and medium loam soils, rich in humus are most suitable for potato cultivation. Avoid alkaline soils for potato cultivation. As acidic conditions control the scab diseases prefer acidic (pH 4.8-5.8) soils potato cultivation.
Basically, potato is a cool-season vegetable crop. It does well in cool regions where there are sufficient moisture and fertile soil. The temperature for optimum tuber growth is 17 and 19°C. There will be an adverse effect on tuber growth if the soil temperature is high. At 30°C or above temperatures tuber growth will stop. Long day conditions during growth and short-day conditions during tuber development will increase yield potential.
Well pulverized soil is necessary for better tuber development of potato. Plow the field to a fine tilth for potato cultivation. Potatoes are grown under ridges rows to protect the developing tubers from sun greening. Ridges and furrows should be prepared with a spacing of 45 cm apart.
Using tuber pieces of 45-50 grams or 35-40 mm are said to ideal for potato cultivation. To break dormancy, tubers are treated with thiourea 1%.
It requires around 3000 kg to 3500 kg tubers per ha if we use 45 grams tubers.
Recommended spacing for the cultivation of potato is 60 cm × 20 cm. It can accommodate 23,000 plants per ha.
Mostly potato is grown as a cool-season crop.
Sowing time- Autumn/ spring/ winter- In plains
Summer / autumn- In hills
Care should be taken to control weeds in potato; otherwise, they will compete with the main crop plants for available resources. They may harbor various pests and diseases. The first 60 days are said to be a critical period of weed competition. Spraying of pre-emergence herbicides like alachlor, Simazine, Nitrofen, etc., within five days after planting. Take up first hoeing after 45 days after sowing.
Removal of the top portions of the crop to avoid the infestation of virus-carrying insects is called dehaulming. It can be performed by cutting the tops manually or by spraying herbicides like Paraquat. When the aphid population increases above the threshold level, chances of a viral infestation too will be high.
Covering the exposed tubers from the soil with soil is called earthing up. It can be done 40 days after sowing. It is mainly done to avoid the greening of developing tubers.
Keep soil always moist enough. Potato is highly responsive to excellent irrigation facilities. Avoid conditions like hardening and high moisture conditions. Provide proper drainage. Provide irrigation at 7-8 days intervals before germination and at 4-5 days interval during the tuber development stage.
Add 10-12 tonnes of farmyard manure before the last plowing. Add 40 kg urea, 150 kg SSP and 30 kg MOP before first plowing as a basal dose. Apply 40 kg urea after 30 days and add 20 kg urea, 30 kg MOP after 50 days after sowing.
Nitrogen is the essential fertilizer for potato crop and maximum responsiveness for nitrogen was recorded in alluvial soils.
There will be a phosphorous deficiency in acidic hill soils and it leads to dull dark green color leaves without luster.
Deficiency of K leads to shortening of internodes and high responsiveness to K is recorded in alluvial soils in potato.
Major Pests and diseases:
- practice earthing up, collection and distribution of affected plants
- Spray carbaryl 3 g per liter.
Leaf eating caterpillar:
- Spray carbaryl at 3 grams per liter.
- Practice crop rotation
- Apply carbofuran 3 G granules at 33 kg per hectare while sowing.
- Use resistant verities like .kufrijyothi, kufri malar.
- Sparymancozeb 2 grams per liter or chlorothalonil 2 grams per liter
- Spray mancozeb 2 grams per liter or chlorothalonil 2 grams per liter provides effective control against early blight.
Brown rot:It also causes wilting of plants so, it is also called bacterial wilt.
Use healthy planting material.
Avoid water stagnation in the field.
Collection and destruction of affected plant parts.
Potato crop will be ready for harvesting within 90-100 days after sowing, depending upon the variety. It can be done 20-25 days after haulm cutting. Tops will dry and turns into yellow to brown color. While plowing, care should be taken to avoid damage to the tubers. Irrigation should be stopped 10 days before harvesting to facilitate easy harvesting. Store the tuber after they were cured properly under shade.
The yield potential of potato is 15-20 tonnes per hectare.
Uses of potatoes
It can be used either fresh or in dehydrated forms.
Potatoes are used in the preparation of chips and French fries.
In a few countries, it is used as a staple food.
It can also be used in the preparation of fuel-grade ethanol.
Protein powder extracted from potato is used after mixing with water for reducing weight.
It is also a good source of starch, fiber, Vitamin-C, and riboflavin, etc.