Potato Planting, Seeding Rate and Plant Spacing
We start by purchasing the potato seed. It is necessary to purchase only certified disease-free seed potatoes from legitimate sellers. About 2 days before planting, we open the bag and we inspect the tubers. Rotten or wet tubers must be removed immediately. Most potato seed tubers have a diameter of 45-60 mm. These tubers may need to be cut into smaller pieces (often called “sets”). Tubers that have a diameter of 28-35 mm normally do not require cutting and can be planted whole.
Cutting the seed potatoes into smaller pieces is a controversial method. Its supporters claim that if you follow all the hygiene precautions, then you will end up by having as much as triple production. We can cut a large tube into 3 smaller pieces (each having at least one eye), and each piece will normally produce one plant. If we didn’t cut this large tube into pieces and we rather preferred to plant it whole, this tuber would produce just one plant. Thus, cutting the large seed potatoes definitely increases yield. However, if there is an infected tuber, under this method, the disease will be quickly spread to all the tubers through the knife or the scissor that we use to cut the potatoes. Thus, in some countries from time to time (when there is evidence that a potato seed lot may be infected), agronomists and potato seed companies advise farmers not to cut the seed potatoes and rather plant them whole. In all cases, we must dip our knife or razor blade into a strong antimicrobial solution after cutting each tube (consult a licensed agronomist).
The recommended potato seeding rate is 2 to 2,5 tons per hectare for tuber diameter 45-60mm. For tuber sizes 28-35 mm, the recommended potato seeding rate is 1,5 to 1,8 tons per hectare. The potato seeds are planted through automated potato planting machines that are attached to tractors. These machines have multifunction capabilities. They plow the field and they plant the seeds in the recommended depth, leaving the proper space between potato seeds within the row and the proper space between rows. The recommended spacing within the row is 10-15 inches (25-38cm), while distance between rows ranges from 28 to 36 inches (70-90cm). Under this scheme, we will have a plant population ranging from 25.000 to 60.000 plants per hectare. The recommended plant populations are generally higher for late-emerged seed.
We can calculate our within row spacing in order to have the desired plant population, using the following equation:
100.000/PP*RW = SS,
where PP= Plant Population (in thousands plants per hectare)
RW=Row Width in cm
SS= Seed Spacing in Row in cm. (Source: University of Cambridge)
Suppose we want to have 55.000 plants per hectare and our row width is 90cm. In this case, we solve the equation SS= 100.000/55*90 = 20,2 cm. Thus, we must place the seeds within the row at a distance of 20,2cm in order to have a plant population of 55.000 plants per hectare.
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3. Potato Seeding Rate, Planting and Plants Spacing
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