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Potatoes

There can be a problem with saving potato varieties by replanting tubers because this can accumulate in the development of virus diseases. Most of these viruses are spread from plant to plant by the peach-potato aphid. Some viruses have little impact on the crop while others can be quite harmful. Essentially the more virus types a variety has, the more poorly it will perform.

Growing potatoes from potato seed can be very interesting and a lot of fun. The potato plants carry small berries that look similar to small green tomatoes. These berries should be picked around two months after they form, when they are mature and start to become soft . At this point they tend to fall off the plant due to being ripe. Squeeze the seeds from the fruits into a bowl and add enough water and then cover. The good seeds will tend to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Continue to add more water and pour off the debris, drain and dry the seeds. More information on seed drying can be found under our section ‘Seed Cleaning and Drying’ on our website.

The following spring plant the seeds starting in a 7cm pot and pot on from there as they grow. Potato seeds tend to germinate best at temperatures from 65-80F. At this stage they can be treated like tomato seedlings. Each plant will be unique in that it will be a new variety from all the other plants you have grown. Here it is where it can be fun in that each new plant will produce small potatoes and you can start to select. Boil the potatoes and try them for taste and texture. Select those plants that are better than the others. Keep a few tubers from each of the plant pots so that you have material to plant next year. Keep records.

What is so good in breeding potatoes from seed is that the reproductive process leaves behind viral diseases carried by the tubers.