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Saving seed potatoes: how small is too small?

 
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands, Canada
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I'm pulling up some of my potatoes and there are some good-sized ones as well as some of the quarter-sized ones attached to the same root. If I save the little ones to grow more potatoes with later, am I dooming them to fail because they don't have enough energy to send up a nice plant, or will they be okay? Also would I be selecting for smaller potatoes or is it okay since they were part of the same plant that had some good-sized ones?
 
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Hi Meg,

The smaller potatoes you described will work fine for seed potatoes, if they all come from the more productive plants. The potato itself, typically grow underground like a dormant terminal bud, with the furthest most growing point from attachment, having a dense cluster eyes organized like a terminal growing tip. So those smaller potatoes will grow well, with plenty of branching, also having plenty of energy to get started, being 1/4 of full size. Just plant the cluster of eyes up, and it will be better centered for seasonal growth. Technically seed potatoes are all the clone equivalent, of the original parent plant; however, sometimes genetic variations randomly occur over the years, so taking seed potatoes from the more productive plants insures your not reseeding from plants that may be infected with disease, while also harnessing any positive changes that may occur on a genetic level, for adaption your region. If when you harvest each potato plant, you can evaluate its overall production, also comparing environmental conditions which may effect optimal production, then weeding out collecting seed potatoes from plants the did poorly, for no explainable reason.

I hope that helps!
 
Meg Mitchell
pollinator
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Thanks, that helps a lot! I should have realized all the potatoes were clones of the original since I'd heard of people letting their potatoes flower and then collecting the seed to select for genes, but I guess it hadn't totally clicked. :D
 
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I've never had much luck using small potatoes for seed use. They don't seem to produce nearly as much or as well as when I use larger seed potatoes. So my policy now is that I use the large potatoes for selling and trading, medium-large for seed potatoes, and we eat the medium & small ones ourselves. We will eat anything down to marble size.

I don't cut the potatoes into pieces. I plant them whole.
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Su Ba wrote:I've never had much luck using small potatoes for seed use. They don't seem to produce nearly as much or as well as when I use larger seed potatoes.



That is also my experience. I observe that the larger the piece of seed potato that goes into the ground, the faster the plant gets established, and the more food it produces.
 
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I planted small and large and then just left them, when perhaps I should have watered. I planted a bit late in the spring , not long before the summer drought. All of them came up , but the little ones didn't get well enough established and they suffered during the summer while the larger ones were able to extract moisture from the rotting wood beneath. And i think their own canopy helped to maintain lower soil temperature.
 
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