CROP TALK: Potatoes
Well, it’s that time again: with seed potato ship dates are just around the corner, we thought it might be useful to offer some variety advice while you ponder your spud season. Here’s a guide to variety selection for different climates and growing conditions:
Potatoes can be grown in a wide variety of field and soil conditions, just as long as they are properly provided with nutrients either through naturally rich soils or periodic feedings with fertilizer. You can’t go wrong with widely adapted classics like Burbank Russet and Dark Red Norland. This year, we’re especially excited for growers to try our newest specialty gourmet variety, French Fingerling, as it’s widely adapted and well suited to commercial production with strong yields and vigorous plants.
Fields always wet? If your fields suffer from dampness early and late in the season, consider blight and wilt resistant varieties like Reba and Yukon Gem. Red Chieftain has also been found to tolerate wet conditions, and is especially attractive as a new potato.
Expecting a slow spring? If your location means your fields are usually slow to dry out and reach workable soil levels, you may want to consider greensprouting your potatoes to give them a head start. Greensprouting is a technique that can work well with any variety, but if your season is especially short due to damp conditions, consider types that are quicker to mature like Dark Red Norland, Purple Viking and All Red.
Worried about drought? If you’re used to things drying out when the heat cranks up, you want to be sure your potato plants will be scrappy enough to find water and hold up in the heat when they need to. Katahdin and All Red are known to be tolerant of drought and high yielding even through less than ideal conditions.
Constantly battling pest and disease issues? When vigor and resistance is what you need to battle scab, blights, leaf hoppers and/or wilts, we recommend Reba as an all-around performer and the late blight resistant Yukon Gem as an improvement over its parent, Yukon Gold, for performance in organic systems. New to High Mowing’s offerings this year, Adirondack Blue also produces a vigorous plant, out-ranking All Blue – which it replaces – for both field performance and refined marketable characteristics.
Remember: High Mowing’s assortment of seed potatoes has been specially selected for adaptability, which means most varieties will grow well in various climates and field conditions. But if you know you have certain challenges like the ones listed above, you’ll benefit greatly from strategic variety selection.