Potatoes, when grown under favorable conditions, are one of the
most productive of all vegetables in terms of food per unit area
Potatoes are a cool-season crop; they do not thrive in
midsummer in the southern half of the country. Any mellow,
fertile, well-drained soil is suitable for potato production.
Stiff, heavy clay soils often produce misshapen tubers. Potatoes
respond to a generous use of commercial fertilizer, but if the
soil is too heavily limed, the tubers may be scabby.
Commercial 5-8-5 or 5-8-7 mixtures applied at 1,000 to 2,000
pounds to the acre (approx.) usually provide enough plant food for
a heavy crop. The lower rate of application is sufficient for very
fertile soils; the higher rate for less fertile ones. Commercial
fertilizer can be applied at the time of planting, but it should
be mixed with the soil in such a way that the seed pieces will not
come in direct contact with it.
In the North, plant two types of potatoes�one to provide
early potatoes for summer use, the other for storage and winter
use. The use of certified seed is always advisable.
In preparing seed potatoes for planting, cut them into blocky
rather than wedge-shaped pieces. Each piece should be about 11/2
ounces in weight and have at least one eye. Medium sized tubers
weighing 5 to 7 ounces are cut to best advantage.
Plant early potatoes as soon as weather and soil conditions
permit. Fall preparation of the soil often makes it possible to
plant the early crop without delay in late winter or early spring.
Potatoes require 2 to 3 weeks to come up, depending on depth of
planting and the temperature of the soil.
In some sections the ground may freeze slightly, but this is
seldom harmful unless the sprouts have emerged. Prolonged cold and
wet weather after planting is likely to cause the seed pieces to
rot. Hence, avoid too early planting. Young potato plants are
often damaged by frost, but they usually renew their growth
quickly from uninjured portions of the stems.
Do not dig potatoes intended for storage until the tops are
mature. Careful handling to avoid skinning is desirable, and
protection from long exposure to light is necessary to prevent
their becoming green and unfit for table use.
Store in a well-ventilated place where the temperature is low,
45� to 50� if possible, but where there is no danger of
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