Dad’s advice on spuds

This is a quick supplement to my last post about the potatoes and helps answer why you chit in day light.  My Dad spent 40 years working for the Ministry of Agriculture Fisher’s and Food (MAFF) before it became DEFRA.  He spent a lot of time out in the fields inspecting crops especially when we moved to Yorkshire.  He had posted a comment on the blog the other day about how to chit potatoes but I wasn’t sure why you did them in the light.  He sent me a brilliant email today.  I thought it was a good idea to share it.

Thanks Dad… great advice

Dads tips
When I was working in Pembrokeshire the main early potato grown was Arran Pilot so I saw how they were able to get high yields for the early market.  They used frost free glasshouses ie. minimum heat to ensure no frost damage.   I was told that this was for several reasons.
  • The good light encouraged strong short chits that were less likely to be knocked off with mechanical planting.
  • Green potatoes are more able to resist chilling even light frost, this goes for short green chits as well.
  • Short chits means that the buds from which the stolons grow are well underground after planting and later earthing up.
  • Arran Pilot is prone to potato Dry Rot so it is easy to root out any affected tubers before planting.
It is a good plan to chit potatoes on end ie with the rose end uppermost.  The one with the most eyes.
Growers here in Yorkshire used to chit potatoes in windowless sheds in trays stacked more than head high with light tubes hanging in the rows between the stacks.  This gave better frost protection at the cost of lighting.  For a Yorkshire farmer this must have improved monetary returns!
The reason for the 10th April date is that this gives the plant the best chance of achieving full leaf cover for there is the longest day length.  Hence, the more photosynthesis and greater plant growth thus more yield.
And as everyone knows… your father knows best … so I am going to do as I am told (for once)

6 comments

  1. That’s excellent advice, cheers. Mine are chitting well in the living room at the moment. The only reason they’re not in the greenhouse is the recent frost warnings we’ve been having. I might move them out there now the temperatures are set to rise a bit though.

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  2. I think so… the idea is that by mid summer you had maximum leave cover and maximum tuber growth. My Dad said this in the other potato chitting blog – The best practice is to chit the seed tubers in a glasshouse then plant in warm soil by 10th April. To achieve warm soil for planting try pegging fleece over the potato bed then leave the fleece covering until the shoots emerge, can leave until frosts are not expected.

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  3. So that April 10th date, is that the best time to plant them out? And you can stand ’em on end quite nicely in egg-boxes (if you’ve been hoarding them all year for just that purpose…)

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