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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Potatoes Need to Be Started Early in the Season

Q. I want to plant potatoes here in Vegas. Our season is timed different than others though so there aren't seed potatoes available now for a mid or late July planting. Will standard Yukon Gold, Russett, fingerlings or Sweet Potatoes from the grocery survive here? Or can you suggest where to get some suitable seed potatoes?

A. You are planting too late if you put them in the ground in July. We need to plant Irish potatoes here in late February or early March. Purchase seed potatoes early in the spring. Sweet potatoes are a hot weather crop and need to go in later when soil temperatures are warm, around the first week in late April or early May.

            Any Irish potato can be quartered and used for “seed”. Potato seed are not seeds at all but cut up potato tubers. When cutting potato tubers for seed, make sure each seed piece has at least two “eyes” or “dimples” and plenty of tuber connected to it.
Potato tuber developing on underground rhizome

Sterilize knives used for cutting and allow the cut pieces to “heal” in the refrigerator, moistened, for a few days prior to planting. Warm up seed pieces taken from the refrigerator to room temperature before planting.

I have used potatoes from the grocery stores for seed but you should realize that they are not certified disease free so diseases are more of a potential problem. Purchase organic potatoes for seed since standard potatoes may be treated with a sprout inhibitor. Sprout inhibitors are sometimes applied to keep them from sprouting in storage.
Harvesting potatoes
All of the potatoes you mentioned will grow here including Sweet Potatoes. Consider Red Pontiac and Red La Sota for red skinned potatoes as well as those you mention. Also try blue potatoes such as “Adirondack Blue” as well as fingerlings.

If you’re going to grow potatoes here, make them really special because regular old potatoes are not terribly expensive to purchase. I don’t know of a potato that will not grow here.

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