Potato Cultivation Guide:
Introduction of Potato Cultivation:- Potato is a starchy, tuberous important staple food crop of the world. Potato is also known as poor man’s food. Potatoes are being used for several industrial purposes such as starch production and alcohol. The potato belongs to the family of “solanaceae” and genus of “solanum”. Potatoes are good source of carbohydrates and being used with other food dishes. Potatoes are mostly cross-pollinated by insects such as bumblebees, which can carry pollen from other potato plants. Potato plant is an herbaceous perennial that grows up to 65 cm height, depending on variety, with the leaves dying back after flowering, fruiting and tuber formation. The tubers of potato varieties with white flowers have white skins, while those of varieties with colored flowers tend to have pinkish skins. As potatoes have regular market demand, one can get decent profits with proper crop management practices. There are many improved commercial hybrid potato varieties available in the world. However, selecting quality and disease resistant tubers is the key factor for commercial success of potato crop. Potatoes can be grown in greenhouse, polyhouse, pots, containers and even backyards.
Health Benefits of Potato:- The following are some of the health benefits of potato.
- Potatoes are good for weight gain.
- Potatoes are good source of carbohydrates.
- Potatoes are good for digestion.
- Potatoes are food for brain functioning and nervous system health.
- Potatoes are good for skin health.
- Potatoes may help in preventing some type of cancer.
- Potatoes help in controlling high blood pressure.
- Potatoes are good for heart health.
- Potatoes help in preventing kidney stones.
- Potatoes increase immune power.
Potato Varieties:- There are many commercial potato varieties available for each region. Contact your local horticulture department for suitable cultivar.
Local Names of Potato in Other Parts of the World:- Pomme de terre (French), Kartoffel (German), Aardappel (Dutch), Төмс (Mongolian), Ziemniak (Polish), Tattie (Scottish), Aloo (Urdu), Patatja (Albanian), Krompir (Bosnian), Kartul (Estonian), πατάτα (Greek), Prátaí (Irish), 감자 (Korian), Patata (Maltese), Aalu (Nepali), a batata (Portuguese), кромпир (Serbian), Patata (Spanish), Kartoshka (Uzbek), baṭāṭā (Arabic), картоф (Bulgarian), mǎ líng shǔ (Chinese), Patatas (Filipino), Patata (Italian), Kartol (Kurdish), 土豆 (Mandarin), Potet (Norwegian), Kentang (Sundanese), Viazi (Swahili), Taten (Welsh), มันฝรั่ง (Thai), Khoai tây (Vietnamese), alu:(Burmese), じゃがいも (Japanese), Kartupelis (Latvian), Cartof (Romanian), Ala (Sinhalese), Brambor (Czech), ដំឡូង (Cambodian), Компир (Macedonian), Alo (Pashto), Картофель (Russian), Ľuľok zemiakový (Slovak), Potatis (Swedish), Patates (Turkish), Izambane (Zulu),马铃薯 (Cantonese), Kartoffel (Danish), კარტოფილი (Georgian), Burgonya (Hungarian), Ubi Kentang (Malay), Seyeb zemeyeney (Persian), Alookum (Sanskrit), Krompir (Slovenian), Maflengzuu (Taiwanese), Taiwanese (Ukrainian).
Local Names of Potato in India:- Aloo / Batata (Hindi), Bangaala Dumpa / Urlagadda / Alu Gadda (Telugu), Uralaikilangu (Tamil), Aalugadde (Kannada), Batata (Gujarati), Kook / Batato (Konkani), Batate (Marathi), Alu (Oriya), Aloo (Punjabi), Aloo (Bengali), Alu (Assamese), Pataato (Sindhi), Aloo (Manipuri), Aalu (Oriya), اولُو/ Olu (Kashmiri).
Climate Required for Potato Cultivation:- Generally potato is a cool season crop and tolerates frost moderately. The ideal temperature for its growth during its initial stage is 25°C.However, potato tuber growth reaches a maximum at 21°C and decreases with temperature increase.
Soil Requirement for Potato Cultivation:- Potatoes are being grown in wide range of soils. However, deep, well-drained and friable soils having good organic matter are ideal for its cultivation. Sandy soils with little clay or little organic matter with proper irrigation and fertilizer supply would result in high yield and good quality tubers. Usually, potatoes are more tolerant to low soil pH when compared to other crops. The ideal pH range for potato cultivation is 6.0.to 6.5. It is advised to go for soil testing before starting large scale potato cultivation. Any soil micro-nutrient requirement should be covered based on the soil test results.
Land Preparation in Potato Cultivation:- Growing potatoes involves extensive soil preparation. The soil / land needs to be harrowed for clearing any weeds from previous crops in the field. In most cases, 3 to 4 ploughings, along with frequent harrowing and rolling, should be required to get the soil to fine tilth stage or friable. Supplement the field with 25 tonnes of well-decomposed farmyard manure in last ploughing to enrich the soil fertility.
Propagation in Potato Cultivation:- Potato crop is usually cultivated by planting tubers. Purity / quality of the varieties and healthy seed tubers are the primary requirement for successful crop cultivation. However, seed tubers are the costliest input in potato cultivation. The tuber seed should be disease free, well sprouted, 35 to 40 grams each in weight. The physiological age of tuber should be two to three months from the harvest of the crop.
Seed Rate, Seed Treatment, Spacing and Planting in Potato Cultivation:- Generally, seed requirement depends on the cultivar and soil type. In potato cultivation, seed required per hectare is 1,300 to 2,000 kg. Planting season depends on region, climatic conditions and variety of potato. Spacing of seeds is not consistent across the regions because of growing conditions and market needs. Usually, in hilly areas where furrow method is followed, a spacing of 60 cm x 30 cm is maintained where as in plains, ridge plantation method is followed and a spacing of 30 cm is maintained. Ridges distance is kept as 45 cm – 60 cm. reducing the in-row spacing to minimize oversized tuber production may lead to higher quality tubers for fresh markets. Generally, the major portion of potatoes is planted from April month to early June. It is advised to plant the potatoes when soil temperature is above 7 °c and below 22 °c. While planting the potatoes, make sure the soil has moisture content but not excessively wet. In dry areas, light irrigation should be provided before planting. If high yields and large tubers are expected, a deeper planting depth is considered. Tubers of seed potatoes should be warmed to 10 °c to 15 °c before handling and cutting to minimize the potential for bruising. Potato seed should be warmed and removed from cold storage 7 to 15 days before planting. Tubers should never be taken from cold storage and planted directly. Whole potato or cuttings of potato can be planted.
Irrigation in Potato Cultivation:- Irrigation is among the most important factors determines the yield and quality of potatoes. The irrigation requirement depends on variety of potatoes, relative humidity, solar radiation, day length, length of growing season, and other environmental factors. However, the seasonal requirement for cultivars in all areas will be at least 500 mm of water. As much as 750 to 900 mm of water will be required in some specific production areas depending on soil type, weather conditions, and potato cultivar. Water should be applied to the soil frequently in light volumes to maintain the crop with adequate moisture. Irrigation is required throughout all growth stages of the potato crop particularly during tuber initiation and tuber enlargement. If the crop is not rain fed but irrigated, several methods of irrigation are available. The most common methods of irrigation in potato cultivation are; sprinkler irrigation, furrow irrigation and sub-irrigation. Method of irrigation depends on the geography of the land.
Manures and Fertilizers in Potato Cultivation:- Potato crop requires more nutrients. The requirement of N:P:K ratio should be 120:50:225. Well-decomposed farm yard manure of 25 tonnes/ha (FMY) or equaling garden compost / green manure can be applied in the soil while preparing the land for potato cultivation.
Intercultural Operations in Potato Cultivation:- The Intercultural operations like hand weeding, earthing up should be carried out to control weeds and to keep the soil loose for proper development of tubers. First weeding should be carried when the plants are about 20 cm high. At the same time, light earthing up should be given to support the plant. Second weeding should be carried after 3 weeks and also earthing up should be done to cover the developing tuber. All these tasks should be performed carefully without damaging root system of potato and developing tubers. Make sure all exposed tubers are covered with soil as part of inter-cultural operations.
Diseases and Insects in Potato Cultivation:- Though there are many chemical controls for pests and diseases, crop rotation, using disease tolerant varieties and healthy, certified seed tubers are the key factors of avoiding many diseases and pests.
Bacterial wilt, Septoria leaf spot, Late blight, Early blight, Common scab (will occur in low pH soils), Black scurf/ canker, Viral disease (potato virus X, S, & Y), Potato Spindle Tuber Viroid, Black leg and soft rot, Pink rot and Black heart- disorder diseases in potato cultivation. Aphids, Potato tuber moth, Jassids/ leaf hoppers,Whitefly and Root-knot nematode are common pests found in potato plantation.
For control measures of these pests and diseases in potato farming, contact any horticulture department or agriculture department of any agriculture universities.
Note: Contact your local department of horticulture for disease symptoms and their control. They are the best source for pest and disease control solutions in potato cultivation.
Harvest in Potato Cultivation:- Potatoes comes to maturity and ready for harvesting after 3 to 4 months of sowing. Turning the potato plant’s leaves into yellow colour and easy separation of the tubers from their stolons indicate that the crop has reached maturity level. Harvesting practices depends on the region. Some regions follow manual and some mechanical harvesting. However, care must be taken for not injuring the tubers. Irrigation should be stopped couple of days before harvesting.
Yield in Potato Cultivation:- Yield of potato crop depends on the cultivar, soil, environmental factors. On an average, one can get a yield 25 to 30 tonnes/ha.
Marketing of Potato:- For fresh market purpose, they can be transported to local markets. If the crop is grown on large scale, it is important to establish a marketing strategy to sell the produce in bulk.