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RE: Potato seed pods (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: okiedawn on 06.10.2009 at 02:48 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Bruce,

I don't grow potatoes from seed because potatoes do not reproduce true-to-type from seed in most cases. That's why most potatoes are grown from tubers, a.k.a. seed potatoes.

Potatoes are inbreeding but when you save seeds, especially from a hybrid, you have no idea what you'll get. Some of the seed-grown plants may give you plants similar to your original Kennebec, but they may not. You may get a wide array of potatoes from your seed and they may or may not be edible and have good flavor/texture.

If you want to know how to save the seed, here's how:

Squeeze the seed balls and see how firm they feel. In order for the seeds to be viable, the seed balls (they sort of remind me of small tomatoes) will be a bit soft. It usually takes them a couple of months to get from the "fresh" seed ball stage to the "mature" seed ball stage. Once they are mature, remove them from the plants....or just wait for them to fall off the plants on their own.

From that point on, you pretty much proceed in the same manner you would if you were saving seed from tomatoes. Cut the potato seed balls in half and squeeze the seeds into a cup. When you have all your seeds in the cup, add enough water to just cover them. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom. Pour off the water and debris, including floating seeds. You might want to add water again and make sure you get all the debris and non-viable seeds removed. Drain the water off the seeds and spread them out on coffee filters to dry. (They'll stick to paper plates, paper towels or napkins, but not to coffee filters.) It is up to you whether or not you choose to ferment the seeds (like you do with tomatoes) for 2-3 days. Some research shows that fermentation improves germination and lessens disease issues.

To grow potato plants from seed, plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2" deep in the flats or pots and treat them much the same way you treat tomato seeds, only of course you may start them earlier since potatoes go into the ground a bit earlier than tomatoes do. I'd start the potato seeds 4-6 weeks before my official last frost date, plant them in sterile soil-less seed-starting medium, and put them on a heat mat, if you have one, to speed up germination. You should get germination in about a week. Grow them on the way you grow tomato seedlings. Be sure to harden off the plants before transplanting outside, and plant them about 8-12" apart in the garden. I'd plant deep, and do the usual hilling up routine over time. Also, watch for freezes and be prepared to cover up the plants if cold weather threatens.

I am not sure about the best timing for potatoes from seed. Normally, we can plant the tubers very early, as you know, because they will be sprouting underground and have protection from cold weather as long as they are under the soil. With seed-raised plants, you probably don't want to put them out until your average last frost date has passed and you feel the weather is going to stay mostly above freezing.

When the plants grow and you harvest them, only save seeds from plants that produced true-to-type tubers. Rogue out any plants that are producing off-types and inferior plants or tubers. It also is best to always save seeds from the largest number of plants possible to maintain the best qualities of the variety.

Good luck,

Dawn

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clipped on: 06.09.2013 at 08:23 pm    last updated on: 06.09.2013 at 08:24 pm