I've had it with potatoes

brookw_gwApril 28, 2010

Three years now, I've planted hundreds of pounds of seed potatoes and have only wasted time, money, and space. They just rot in the ground. Anyone have a solution to this besides shutting off these infernal rains? I am sick to death of mud!! I've heard of treating them with sulfur. I even did not cut them this year and fared no better. Last year, I spent a lot of money on specialty potatoes along with my regular reds and whites and never harvested a single spud. Is there any variety that is rot resistant??


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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

How deep are you planting them? How developed are the eyes? I have planted potatoes and it has rained, snowed, froze and snowed again and they finally came up. It did take almost a month. How long have they been in the ground? When did you plant them?

What varieties do you plant? Do you cut them and let them heal over or did you just cut and plant? Did you mulch them too?


    Bookmark   April 28, 2010 at 3:24PM
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have you tried raised beds to get them up and out of the wet/mud?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:58AM
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On new seed potatoes, I usually cut them a couple weeks before planting and chit them, letting the eyes gets 1/4-1/2 in long. Sometimes, I save the specialty potatoes and get a couple or three years before buying new seed. I can always get Kennebec, Red La Soda, and Yukon Gold cheap at my local farm supply, so I don't save them. I've been buying German Butterball, Mountain Rose, Adirondak Red and Blue, Austrian Crescent, Caribe, Purple Majesty, Irish Cobbler, and others from Roningers. I thought maybe my home garden hosted some disease issues because of rot, but I've fared no better on my farm thirty miles away. It could be I'm planting too deep. I cover them about 2-3 inches deep and hill them as they grow. Since I have plenty of space, I give them a nice 4 ft between rows and mulch with grass clippings or bagged leaves after they get tall enough. I never plant in the same spot for 3 or 4 years--that includes where I had tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. I have really nice, loose, rich soil too. Maybe it's just this endless rain we've had three years straight. We had close to 8' two weeks ago, 2 1/2 this week, and it's supposed to rain all weekend.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 11:00AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

It doesn't sound like you are doing anything wrong. Are others having the same problems? I plant my potatoes on raised beds. I till the garden area, and rake the aisles into the rows, then I plant into the beds. I cover with 2-3 inches of soil. This method helps my soil not to wash away. I am raising the potatoes on a slope. The raised beds act more like terraces.

I have had 4-6 inches of water standing in the aisles after large rains. The water slowly seeps in and helps me keep the moisture levels up. Then I mulch with old straw. The soil keeps nice and cool and moist.

Have you dug up the potatoes and see if they have rotted?


    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 12:03PM
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Jay, I've been raising potatoes most of my life with decent but not stellar results. It's just been these last three years that have really been complete failures. Others around here don't seem to have this problem quite as bad. This has led me to believe it was something soil related-- maybe; but even in virgin soil they ALL rotted last year. I've planted twice this year in another new location and have half a stand from the first small planting (3/24) and NOTHING from the second (4/2) large planting. As stated earlier, I have pretty good soil and adequate drainage. I even had the whole field v-ripped last fall to break up the hard pan down deep. I may have to go to raised beds, but I can't imagine the work it would take on a scale this size. Anyway, I'm just frustrated, not defeated. Thanks for the help. To me, home-grown potatoes are equal to home-grown tomatoes. There's just no comparison, and those blues are my favorite.


    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 4:36PM
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We planted our potatoes about the same time, brook, and they haven't come up yet either. LaSoda from RK. After we planted them, we didn't get rain for several days/weeks. We missed out on your 8" and have barely got 1-2" this month. We planted several things during this time period and not much is up, but we are seeing a few things in the last few days. We got rain last weekend, thank goodness. I haven't checked to see if the potatoes are rotting tho.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:11PM
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You should still have time to replant.

Night before planting you can cut the seed potato and coat with captan.(like breading chicken) The Sulphor coating you hear about is for scab. I suspect you have a bacterial problem and not fungal which captan wont help with. If this is indeed the case you need to do raised beds (real easy even by hand) You need to dry the soil out and warm it up.

I planted mine april 2. Mine have about 18 inches of straw over them and poking around in the straw I see some have come up.

heres how I grew them last year. May help with your situation.

Here is a link that might be useful: no dig spuds

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 8:53PM
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Thanks, guys

Curiosity got the best of me last night, so I dug around a little in the rows and discovered a few unrotted potatoes. Surprisingly, they looked no different than the day I planted them--no sprouts. Maybe I'm just too impatient, but I've never had to wait much over a month to see them coming up.

Marla, I too get mine at Rural King and have always been satisfied. I'm glad they now carry Yukon Gold. I've found these to be great keepers, and I really enjoy their size and flavor. I wish I could give you some of our extra water. I created a new strawberry bed a couple weeks ago. Well, the darn little plants are puttig on blooms, which I always remove the first year. I took one small step into the edge of the bed and sunk halfway up to my knee.

Joe, I suspect you may be right as to the bacterial issue. I also suspect it has just been too cold for them to emerge--altho everything else, both perennials and other annual seeds, have emerged beautifully. Where can one get Captan?? I've always heard of no dig spuds but have personally never tried it. This may be the route I have to take. I have one old large round bale left that I could break up and use.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:52AM
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I dont think its been to cool for potatoes. Im on the ILL/WIS stateline, and soil temps are booming. I have sweet corn and snap beans up! Captan- You can try a farm and fleet, hardware stores, home depot, menards... might be easier to get online. MOst will be sold a captan 12 wp. The wp is water soluble powder. I suppose you could mix up some mancozeb and dip the taters in that. Might be easier to find. Either or. There is an ebay seller "sunshine hope" that I get a lot of my chemicals from. Lots of good hard to find stuff :)

Doing some more reading, Even though a fungicide wont stop a bacterial issue it will make it less vulnerable to a fungus if its in a weakened condition. Thinking out load , it makes me wonder if you couldnt dip them in a copper solution (like kiocide 3000) Copper is anti-bacterial as well as anti fungal. I found no such information on this.
Apparently, the seed taters usually have the bacteria on them, they just need the right conditions to present themselves.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 11:15AM
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Hubby found the first 2 taters up in the field. I have planted green beans, but nothing yet. Brook, I'm not sure if I want MUCH of your rain. We are supposed to get some rain tonight/early morning and then again tomorrow night/early morning, which should set us up again. We started planted some of the tomato plants out, just in time for another freezing night. I have some plants that must be survivors, because they are still alive after a night of 30 degrees.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Thanks, Joe. I'll give the Captan a try next year. I routinely use copper on my fruits but never considered it for potatoes. I understand it can build up in your soil and is hard on the little critters. I could probably replant, but I'm way behind on everything else. We ended up with 2.2 inches and there's a good chance of more tonight. I feel for Tennessee. I've already buried the tractor once this year, so it's pretty much over for putting in more spring crops. Summer crops will just have to wait--altho' my tomatoes are begging to be put in the ground.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 12:20PM
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I bought more potatoes this weekend. On Sat, I paid $1 for 50 pounds. On Sun, I went back in to buy more and they dropped the price down to $.50 per 50 pounds. Plus I bought onion sets, 3 32 pound bags for total of $5.00. Of course, there will be some rotten ones, but I think the price will justify. Now, to get them planted. I'm going to try the straw method on the potatoes and a few of the onions. Never know until you try it. Has anyone tried the straw method on onion sets???

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 7:41PM
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What an awesome deal!! I always buy many onion sets and store them in the fridge to use as green onions in the fall. It works perfectly. You can even plant potatoes late and get new potatoes in the fall.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2010 at 9:51AM
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