little_minnie(zone 4a)August 21, 2012

My potato crop is awful this year. I had some problems with my drip irrigation down in that part of my 1/2 acre garden and that could be it or something else. I am digging up 2 little red potatoes per plant. It is taking one whole bed to cover only 1 CSA share week and I have 6 beds. I am leaving the later season taters as long as possible to give them time to give me the most they can. The early season reds were sure cr*ppy!

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Sorry to hear of your poor tater crop. I am harvesting wonderful potatoes but not many under each hill. I do not know if you read my thread in the veggie forum about my garlic being wiped out by the Aster yellows disease this year. Well, the disease damaged my potato plants as well. Maybe this happened to your potatoes - Aster yellows damaged garlic and other veggies and ornamentals all over Minnesota this year.

Check out the link and see if the symptoms apply. I would not be a bit surprised if your crops were affected by this evil disease.


Here is a link that might be useful: Potato Symptoms with Aster Yellows

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 12:45AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Interesting. I haven't seen any leaf rolling. I wasn't sure what exactly the garlic had. I assumed it was fusarium since I never directly heard a name at the festival.
Last year I literally had thousands of potato bugs from the potato fields all over here in Sherburne county. This year there were very few CPBs at all. Last year's crop was decent but I assumed it would have been better without the heavy presure from CPBs, especially on fingerlings which are their favorite. So this year with so few CPBs and the ones there were always taken out right away, you would have thought the taters would do well. They were almost the furthest crop from the drip line start, but the 2 crops further (one onion bed and half of the melons) did super. So I know the potatoes were sometimes dry but couldn't have been that bad. Many did not come up at all so I guess rodents are to blame for that. I don't think it was bad seed.
I didn't hill up and weed well right away when I should have, but frankly I never do. And it was so hot then and so much work for that many rows!
This was planting day.

This was later in summer. I put straw on directly after this. The yellow tone was the camera not reality.

I was hoping it wasn't just my garden with the problem so I could have a concrete answer on it (like with the garlic).

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 12:13AM
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Nice pics - you have nice looking soil there. That is quite a potato bed.

I like the planter. Where did you get it? Are you happy with how well it works?

I wonder how deep the planter planted your seed potatoes. If it planted shallow and you did not hill or did not hill right away, I believe that would affect yield. Did you see a lot of marble-size potatoes when you dug up the plants?

I still dig individual holes, put in compost, and plant the seed potatoes by hand to orient them properly and to set them at my preferred planting depth. I also hill the plants by hand, even though it is a pain. Obviously not a feasible method for your kind of planting numbers.

Regarding watering - if needed, I usually water the plants when they are first sprouting out of the ground. I have never watered potatoes during summer - even during the hot, dry July we had this year. This is not a criticism of you because you are obviously an experienced grower, but the fact is that I see many people overwater their vegetable gardens, including tubers and root crops, and then I hear them complain about diseased tomato plants and viners, veggies rotting in the ground, and veggies not keeping well in storage. They simply do not see the connection. Without watering I got nice sized, firm, clean potatoes. I felt I did not get as big a harvest as I should have, but when I weighed them the ratio came in at 6-8 to 1 which is certainly acceptable, for my needs anyways. A CSA operation would want to strive for that magical 10 to 1 goal.

I do not think this is really related to your yield problem, but you should consider doing a test next year where you plant one row separate and do not water at all - see what you get compared to the watered beds regarding harvest weight, quantity, and quality.

Initially I thought my potatoes were being affected by a blight, but all the evidence now points to Aster yellows. Unlike your experiences, I have not had many issues with CPBs (thankfully). My sister's potato plants were infested with Japanese beetles this year. If aint one thing, it's another.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Oh, and just out of curiosity, what varieties did you plant?

I planted what I always plant every year:

Yukon Gold
Russet Burbank
Kennebec White
Pontiac Red
Norland Red
Russian Banana Fingerling

I am going to try some heirloom varieties next year in addition to the standards.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 1:05PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

First the last question. Yukons have poor yield in studies; I plant Keuka Gold. Russets, Red Gold, Norland, Purple Viking, All Blue and Rose Finn Apple.

That is a bulb planter. I got it at Home Depot and love it but you know I don't think I did plant deep enough to start with! What exactly does that do? I put off hilling/hoeing because of the heat and the sweating! So that might be something.

I believe potatoes need quite a bit of water usually. Root crops actually do need a lot of water to make a good root. Vining crops need less. I always feel people overwater melons, squashs, cucs, sweet potatoes. But you cannot water carrots too much and all reports show potatoes need a good amount of water. I live in potato country and there is a lot of irrigation going on. It is almost pure sand here so no rotting of anything. I have voles and gophers that mess things up though.
My harvest was I think not much over what I planted this year! Very bad year. Although I haven't peaked into the late 3 beds. I will hold off digging the golds, purples, russets and fingerlings until the plants start to die. I want the biggest tubers possible, not the earliest. Only Red Gold and Red Norland have been dug so far.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:22AM
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Yes, my Yukons have always been feeble producers. But I love them so much that they always get a space allotment every year. Thanks for your list - I will research them and maybe trial some of them next year.

Sand - of course a garden with a sandy soil substrate would need consistent watering. I did not think of that nor did I make the connection with Sherburne county - I should have.

I am no potato expert but it is my understanding that potatoes are produced between the seed potato and the soil surface. This is why many potatoes will become exposed at the surface, and explains the value of hilling. The seed potatoes cannot be planted too deep or they may not have the energy to sprout to the surface. Hilling helps even things out. I suppose a person could dig a hole, plant the seed potato, then only fill the hole half full. As the plant grows, the rest of the hole can be filled up. Probably the same amount of time and effort either way, though.

This is why trash can potatoes can produce so much - soil is continuously added as the plants grow, allowing more subsurface stem area for the plant to produce potatoes.

Sorry to hear that your yield was that bad - something definitely wrong there. Strange growing season this year. Hope you figure it out.


    Bookmark   August 24, 2012 at 12:56AM
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How deep do you plant your potatoes?

I have two gardens one up by St.Cloud and one down by Hutchinson.
I tried the most covering potatoes with mulch again this year, while planting others at varying depths.
The shallow ones did the most poorly and te deepest ones did the best.

Next year I am going back to burying the potatoes, some at least six inches and some closer to four to see what happens but I will put leaves off of my roses down after the plants are up to prevent sun scald.

This the the second time I tried hte mostly surface planting and the results again were under-whelming but the nasty heat I am sure took its toll as they were never seriously stressed for water do to watering heavily.
I had sixteen to twelve inches of mulch down and the sun could heat that up to the soil very quickly.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:44PM
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