Green Sprouting & Growing Potato Seed

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Green sprouting is an easy way to get a jump start on the growing season.  Green sprouting reduces the growing time by 10 to 14 days. Begin green sprouting or chitting about 4 weeks before expected plant date. Green Sprouting is easy.  Warm pre-cut potatoes at 65°-70°F in a dark location for about a week. Expose the pre-cut potatoes to the light as soon as sprouts appear and lower the temperature to 50°F. The light will turn the sprouts green and keep them short and robust.


If you don’t want to bother with Green Sprouting.  I highly recommend warming the potatoes (70°F for 48 to 72 hours) prior to planting. Simple seed warming improves germination and yield.


I prefer seed pieces that weigh 1½ – 2 ounces (1 ounce for Fingerlings) and have no less than two eyes/sprouts per piece. A seed potato the size of a large hen’s egg weighs 2½ ounces – you would cut that in half. Small seed potatoes may be planted whole. Medium and large seed should be cut into blocky pieces – usually 2, 3, or 4 pieces per tuber. To minimize risk of seed piece rot you can dust the cut surface with calcitic or dolomitic lime, though this is not essential. Some folks cut seed as they plant. Others cut a few days ahead and let the cut surface callous over.


Avoid planting potatoes too early in cold, wet soil. Rather let the soil warm to 50° F. Never plant in soil below 45° F. Plant the warmed up seed after risk of hard frost has passed. Generally, space seed pieces 12” apart. Varieties with a heavy set (number of tubers per hill) like Russets or Fingerlings can be spaced 15” – 18” apart in row to allow each tuber to fully size up. To hasten germination place seed, eyes up, 1” to 3” deep. Plants normally take up to 3 weeks to sprout through the ground.


For healthy plants I like to spray the plant leaves 4 to 6 times per season with a foliar spray. I recommend the Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer.


Potatoes may be eaten anytime after the tubers start to develop.  Potatoes begin to appear around blossoming time.  There is no need to pull up the entire plant when gathering a few potatoes, rather lightly paw through the soil along the side of the plants and remove the tubers.  Harvesting with this method allows the remaining tubers to continue to grow.  If you are going to store them, harvest when mature- at least two weeks after the plant has withered and died. This allows the skins to thicken.  Store the potatoes in earth like conditions- bins, burlap or mesh bags stored in dark location at 35°-40°F.