Potato Pointers

While the middle of the winter seems like a good time to kick back and think about anything but planting potatoes, it is the time of year when growers are making their seed potato decisions for the coming season. Most will cut, treat, and plant their seed tubers as usual.

Others, especially those in high risk areas, may want to consider using whole seed tubers. After many in-depth discussions with seed and commercial producers about the use of uncut seed tubers, I have come to the conclusion that there are pros and cons associated with both cut and uncut seed, but there are a number of “special circumstances” wherein the growers involved may want to consider using single-drop seed rather than cut seed pieces.

Controlling Disease

One of the most compelling reasons for any grower to choose uncut seed over cut seed pieces is that using whole seed is the best method to control bacterial soft rot seed decay. Caused by bacteria in the genus Pectobacterium (formerly known as Erwinia), soft rot is the most frequent cause of seed piece decay and the subsequent blackleg and stand loss that usually follows. It is possible to get excellent soft rot management by cutting and healing seed prior to planting, but this procedure involves more handling of the seed tubers, high-quality storage facilities, and is not without risks of its own.

If conditions are favorable for soft rot development during or shortly after planting, soft rot can become a serious problem. In many parts of the country such “special circumstances” are all but guaranteed for many producers. Soft rot seed decay is favored by waterlogged conditions because the bacteria involved are capable of rotting seed, whether there is oxygen present or not.

Soft rot bacteria take advantage of the large areas of wounded tissues that are created during the cutting process. Fortunately, a wound barrier that will protect the freshly wounded tissues from soft rot usually forms within 48 to 72 hours, but wet, soggy, anaerobic conditions not only favor the bacteria, these conditions can retard or even prevent wound healing, further extending the time that cut seed is vulnerable. Whole, uncut seed can help your potato crop get through these unfavorable conditions.

Should you use a seed treatment on single-drop seed? Yes. I recommend using seed treatments on single-drop seed because there are several seedborne diseases that are associated with the periderm (skin) of the tuber and are not related to the cutting process. Two of the most important of these diseases are Rhizoctonia stem canker/black scurf (Rhizoctonia solani) and silver scurf (Helminthosporium solani).

These two disease problems are especially important to fresh producers who are concerned about the appearance of their potatoes. As the industry moves toward more and more specialty varieties selected by the consumer on appearance, these diseases will remain important and worth treating.

Another segment of the potato industry that falls under our “special circumstances” category and could benefit from the use of single-drop seed is organic producers. With only a limited list of materials that can be used on seed pieces, single-drop seed, with its inherent ability to resist soft rot seed decay, would seem to make good sense. Call it “built in” disease resistance.

In closing, I don’t mean to suggest that single-drop seed won’t ever rot. If conditions remain favorable for decay for long enough, even single drop will succumb to decay, but it is much more resistant than freshly cut seed. For the vast majority of potato producers in the U.S., cutting tubers to make seed pieces will remain the most economical and sensible method for them to use. For organic producers or growers who produce in areas where soft rot seed decay is a frequent problem, single-drop seed provides the best available protection from soft rot seed decay.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Past industry efforts to discover Paradox hybrid seedlings (Juglans hindsii x J. regia) with superior traits have led to advanced selections of Paradox clones, each with unique characteristics. The University of California selection, RX 1, is a top-choice for Sacramento Valley walnut orchardists and others looking for resistance to Phytopthora and good survivability. RX 1 is a cross of Juglans microcarpa x J. regia. It is showing to be one of the most adaptable walnut rootstocks, producing a large tree with the highest yields in replicated trials. USPP#20,649 P3
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Action shot of an automated strawberry picker from Harvest CROO
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Agriculture Research
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
billevans
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans Dies
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
weedy watermelon field
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And Their Longevity
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Field trials are one component being used to evaluate water and nitrogen use efficiency in lettuce.  A wide array of germplasm is being screened including cultivars of leaf, romaine, iceberg and butter types, mapping populations and non-domesticated primitive types and wild lettuce species.   Photo credit: David Still
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Water Use Efficiency In Lettuce
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Cannabis plant closeup
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To Approach $2 Billion By 2020
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Growers participate in a real-time industry survey session at the 2016 Florida Citrus Show
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify For Stronger Future
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
field shot the Produce Peddler Colorado
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registration In Premix Formulation
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
BlackPearl® is the best early season cherry, ripening 10 days before Bing and around Chelan. It has exceptional flavor and is extremely firm and crunchy. BlackPearl® is medium size with 20% sugar and keeps better that most other cherries. The tree is hardy and canker resistant. Early season bloom, S4 unknown.
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Showcase [Slideshow]
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
betternut-23
Vegetables
December 6, 2016
Rupp Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showcase
For more information, contact, Rupp Seeds: 17919 County Rd. B, Wauseon, OH 43567 800-700-1199; WEBSITE www.RuppSeeds.com FAX 419-337-5491; EMAIL [email protected] Read More
The Latest
Fruits
December 7, 2016
Sierra Gold Nursery 2017 Variety Showcas…
Sierra Gold Nurseries in Yuba City, CA, offers two walnut rootstocks, a salt-tolerant pistachio rootstock, and more. Read More
Equipment
December 6, 2016
USDA Announces $3 Million For Robotic Ag…
More evidence being found about how people can benefit from automation in the field. Read More
Apple Grower of the Year
December 6, 2016
2014 Apple Grower Of The Year Bill Evans…
Legendary apple grower Bill Evans, who along with his wife, Jeannette, farmed more apple acreage than any grower in the Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
New Fact Sheet Analyzes Weed Seeds And T…
Topics covered include how weed seeds travel, when they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Scientists Aim To Improve Nitrogen, Wate…
Genetic research intends to develop varieties with enhanced nutrient uptake. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Report: Florida Cannabis Business To App…
Lofty projections include a compound annual growth rate of 140%. Read More
Citrus
December 6, 2016
Florida Citrus Community Tasked To Unify…
A group effort is necessary to forge ahead. Read More
Crop Protection
December 6, 2016
Orondis Opti Fungicide Receives Registra…
The product provides control of Oomycete diseases in vegetables and other specialty crops. Read More
Fruits
December 6, 2016
Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 2017 Variety Show…
For more information on these varieties, contact Fowler Nurseries, Inc. Fowler Nurseries, Inc. 525 Fowler Rd. Newcastle, CA 9565827 Phone: Read More
Vegetables
December 6, 2016
Rupp Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Showca…
For more information, contact, Rupp Seeds: 17919 County Rd. B, Wauseon, OH 43567 800-700-1199; WEBSITE www.RuppSeeds.com FAX 419-337-5491; EMAIL [email protected] Read More
Farm Marketing
December 6, 2016
Registration Is Open For 32nd Annual Nor…
The six-day event for agritourism operators heads to the Northeast with highlights including bus tours, educational sessions and workshops, and business exchange. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
December 5, 2016
Best Practices For Bactericides Key To V…
Approval finally cleared for antimicrobial applications, and now growers wait and hope to see positive results. Read More
Citrus
December 5, 2016
South Florida Endures Driest November On…
Region has not experienced any significant rainfall since Hurricane Matthew. Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Fall Creek Nursery 2017 Variety Showcase…
For information about these varieties, contact Fall Creek Nursery: Fall Creek Nursery 39318 Jasper Lowell Road Lowell, OR 97452 800-538-30015 [email protected] Read More
Fruits
December 5, 2016
Team Coverage: Fruit And Nut Industry Co…
Can’t make it to the biggest fruit and vegetable conferences? No sweat, we’ll take you there. Read More
Vegetables
December 4, 2016
Rispens Seeds 2016 Vegetable Variety Sho…
For more information, contact Rispens Seeds: 1357 Dutch American Way, P.O. Box 310, Beecher, IL 60401 708-946-6560; WEBSITE RispensSeeds.com FAX Read More
GenNext Growers
December 4, 2016
New Loans Available For Small, Beginning…
USDA recently announced streamlined guaranteed Loans and additional lender category for small-scale operators. Read More
Crop Protection
December 4, 2016
Bio Huma Netics Opens New Lab Facility
Facility to improve quality control and help expand product line. Read More