Spuds, not Much to Brag about
Oh, they did okay.
A few years ago, I had someone say that I must live in "Potato Heaven." Not so. Idaho & Washington might lead the nation in potato production but I don't know of a potato field in 100 miles. That person was thinking of southern Idaho or the Columbia Basin. Growing much of anything on glacial till is something else.
The comment did set me on a course of weighing my potato harvest. It is a slow process because I only dig a few feet of the bed as I have "compostables" to bury behind. Then, after the soil settles a little - I plant Asian greens!
I kind of messed up the 1st 2 years that I was weighing the spuds. The 1st year, about 20% of the 100sqft bed was planted with a fairly unproductive variety: Dora. The next year, the harvest of the 4 varieties was sort of backwards. In other words, I harvested those that matured earliest, last. It all had to do with where I wanted to plant those Asian greens but digging a couple of those varieties a few weeks before they were really finished growing didn't help my yield numbers.
So, I only had about 60 pounds out of 100sqft the 1st year I weighed. The 2nd year, there were right at 90 pounds! Inspired, I planted 200sqft of potatoes in 2011. The number couldn't have come closer to 1 pound/sqft. I got 199 pounds out of those 2 beds!
This year, I didn't start off weighing, having gotten all that out of my system, so to speak. Then, I realized that something was a little off.
I went back to a 100sqft bed. 200 pounds of potatoes was a little difficult for me to deal with. I don't have perfect storage for them. So, I went with what I thought were my "strengths" and planted only Yukon Golds and Sangre.
The Yukon Golds have always done well for me. But, not this year. I weighed the harvest of a couple of plants: 1 3/4 pounds. I'd gotten nearly 4 pounds of spuds off each YG plant last year!
The Sangre were better by far but still not the 4 pounds I had hoped for: 2 3/4 pounds per plant.
All in all, it is an okay harvest that is over half complete. I am wondering what happened with the bounty of earlier years.
The weather in 2011 & 2012 were very similar. A wet spring for this part of the world - too much wind and cool. Soil prep, fertilization and hilling was all about the same.
My suspicions now turn to nematodes, if I've got the diagnosis right. There are always some sign of those tiny creatures with the minor burrowing into the tuber that they do. It seems that they do more damage to the actual roots of the potato rather than to the tubers. Just a little more vigorous peeling at the kitchen sink is all it takes to get rid of the damage. Still, I think they have damaged roots and the yield; leaving me with an "okay" potato harvest and nothing to brag about . . .