February 7, 2017

How to Farm Irish Potatoes



By now, you already know the potato variety that you need to plant. We now look at how to grow the potatoes under good management for you to realize optimum profits.

Potato Seed Selection

The initial seeds can be selected from the previous crop or bought from certified suppliers. To select seeds from a previous crop, ensure that they;

  • Have not been replanted for more than three (3) seasons
  • Are of the same variety
  • Have broken dormancy
  • Are egg sized (30-45 mm in diameter)
  • Have several ‘eyes’ to allow many sprouts
  • Are not bruised to prevent spread of diseases
  • Are not rotten

How to Select a Site for Potato Planting

Select a site that is;

  • Fertile
  • Slightly sloping as potatoes do not tolerate water logging
  • That has not been grown with tomatoes or Sodom apple (for virgin land) for the last 4 seasons. This is to avoid built up of diseases common to these crops

How to Plant the Irish Potatoes

  • Prepare the land to get fine soil. Dig up to about 40 cm deep
  • You can plant potatoes for consumption or for seeds

Multiplication site (planting for seeds)

Potatoes to be used as seed do not need to be as big as those for consumption;

  • Open furrows with a spacing of 30 cm. The furrows allow good drainage of the soil
  • Apply DAP fertilizer and slightly cover with soil. Use 100 kg per acre
  • If a few sprouts come out first, cut them to allow uniform sprouting

Planting Ware Potatoes/for consumption

  • Open furrows at a spacing of 75 cm
  • For soils prone to cutworms and millipedes, some farmers spray the furrows with pesticides
  • Apply DAP fertilizer and slightly cover with soil. Use 200 kg per acre for potatoes for consumption
  • Place seeds 30cm from each other
  • Place the seeds with ‘eyes’ facing up at 20-25 cm depth and cover with soil. The soil should not be more than twice the size of the seed

How to Manage a Potato Farm

After 2 weeks depending on the weather and management, the plants emerge.

  • Weeding a potato field is important especially in the first two months as the crop cannot compete well with the weeds. After the two months, the potato plants cover the ground and the weeds grow less
  • Do the 1st weeding 1-2 weeks after crop emergence. Follow with the 2nd and 3rd weeding every two weeks
  • As you do the second weeding, cover the potato plants with more soil (earthing/hilling). Earthing the plants prevents direct sunlight from destroying the tubers and controls bacterial wilt
  • In dry areas, you can mulch the potatoes to preserve moisture
  • You can plant the potatoes alone or intercropped with cereals or legumes
  • Rotate the potato crop with cereals or legumes but never with crops of the same family such as tomatoes. The rotation prevents diseases from building up.
  • Foliar fertilizer is not necessary
  • Use pesticides to control pests such as cutworms and aphids
  • In areas prone to millipedes, drench the soil with actara
  • Control early blight using systemic fungicides 1 week after emergence

How to Harvest Irish Potatoes

  • When the potatoes are mature, the leaves start turning yellow. Late harvesting may encourage attacks by bacterial wilt while early harvesting may lead to low-quality tubers.
  • If harvesting seeds, cut all the plants 3 inches from the ground level when mature
  • Allow 7-14 days for seed potatoes before harvesting the tubers. This allows the tubers to harden and minimize skin injuries
  • For both seed and consumption potatoes, start uncovering the tubers from the edge to minimize damages

How to Store Irish Potatoes

Potatoes go bad easily if stored wrongly.

  • Do not expose the potatoes to direct sunlight because they will absorb the light and turn green (especially the white-skinned varieties)
  • Sort the potatoes and remove bruised and rotten tubers before storing
  • Do not wash potatoes before storage
  • Construct a mud or brick house. The floor can be raised, cemented or earthen
  • Place dry grass on the floor of the house to regulate temperatures and reduce water loss from the tubers. Warm temperatures cause potatoes to sprout. On the other hand, cold temperatures increase sugar levels in potatoes and reduce their quality.
  • Allow air circulation and do not overlap more than four tubers

You can find a cost analysis of an acre of Irish potatoes here.

One Response to How to Farm Irish Potatoes

  1. Geoffrey cheriro says:

    Where Will i get u incase i need seeds for shangi

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