Cultivation Of Potato

Nutritive Value: Potato is a most important vegetable crop around the world. It can be used as a rich vegetable food or can be converted to by-products like potato chips, potato flour and other cookies. Potato contains 76 percent water, 22 percent carbohydrates and 1.6 percent proteins, and is rich in minerals like calcium and iron and in vitamins A, B and C.

Soil and Climate: A rich, friable, welldrained soil having a pH in the range of 5.0 to 7.0 is good for potato growth. But heavy loam soils are unfit for potato cultivation. Potato prefers a temperate to subtropical climate with an optimum temperature in the range of 16 to 21 °C. Underground tubers develops fast under short sunlight days.

Important Varieties: Kufri Chandramukhi, Kufri Lavakar, Kufri Alankar, Kufri Bahar, and Kufri Jyoti are shortduration and popular varieties of potato.

Planting and Irrigation: Small to medium sized sprouted tubers of potato are selected for planting. Often, big size tubers are cut in to two to four pieces taking care that each piece has at least two active eye buds. The cut tubers are allowed to remain under the shade for some time to complete the process of suberization
(healing of exposed surfaces) before plantation. This would prevent tubers from rotting under soil. Planting should be followed by irrigation.

Plant Protection: Care must be taken to protect the growing potato tubers by earthing up with soil (earthing up is a practice of covering growing potato tubers with loose soil layer). When potato tubers are exposed to sunlight their skin can turn to green and become unfit for consumption. Potato is attacked by leaf eating caterpillar and blight disease. The caterpillar eats green leaves and can be controlled by hand picking them or by spraying neem seed extract. The blight can be avoided by using sundried soil as a medium for potato cultivation in pots or containers.

Harvesting: Potato can be harvested 60 days after planting in the early varieties and after 90 days in the mid and late varieties. In the kitchen garden, harvesting can be done many times. Each time harvest only full grown potato without disturbing smaller ones or the plant root system. After 15 days, a second harvesting can be carried out and if necessary a third one on full maturity of all tubers.