If you have ever wondered about potato farming and you have read about our potato farming business plan this article will give you more insight into potato farming. A notable number of people have cited interest in pursuing commercial potato farming. That is why I am going to discuss some pertinent details you ought to know about farming potatoes. Potatoes can be earmarked for local, regional and even international markets.

Potatoes – A Brief Overview

A potato plant (Solanum tuberosum) is a low-growing, branching perennial plant with weak stems. It is a herbaceous annual plant that grows up to 100 centimetres tall and produces a tuber which is commonly known as a potato. Potatoes thrive under warm day temperatures and cool nights and can be grown all year round. Severe frost will kill the crop. Well-drained soils with a pH ranging from 4.2 to 5.8 are most favourable. This is why during land preparation deep ploughing is imperative. Potatoes are ranked fourth after maize, wheat and rice when it comes to starch content.

Importance Of Potatoes

Potatoes have several premises which make them a food crop of choice. Among these the foremost is profitability. This is especially vital since farming ought to be entrepreneurial – the potential to make money should inspire one to take up potato farming. Potato farming is simple and straightforward. Even in scenarios where space is limited, it can still be effectively done. Unlike grain crops, potatoes do not need to be milled, threshed, combined, or undergo any other processing. They can simply be harvested, cleaned (or not in some cases) and sold. You just pull them out of the earth, brush off the dirt, and cook for personal consumption.

Potatoes are packed with nutrition. Potatoes somehow get a bad rap, but they are an excellent source of important nutrients. A typical potato contains over half the day’s requirements necessary for a balanced human diet. This refers to vitamins C and B6, and almost half of the potassium. They are also a good source of fibre, folate, niacin, thiamin, magnesium, manganese, and more. Potatoes are a healthful alternative to grains and beans.

Production Considerations

The use of high-quality seed is paramount. A depth of at least 30 centimetres with a fine tilth (i.e. soil that is tilled in such a way that makes it suitable for sowing) is recommended. Potatoes require relatively large amounts of fertilizers because of their shallow roots and the need to bulk up within a short growing period. A carefully planned fertilizer program is needed with amounts depending on land history, soil type, variety, climate and expected yields.

The general rate for compounds is between 2000 kilograms and 1500kilograms per hectare at planting. A top-dressing of ammonium nitrate at a rate of 290 kilograms per hectare should be applied once, 3 weeks after emergence. Also, top dressing of 400 to 500 kilograms per hectare of Sulphate of Potash will be needed, splitting it into two equal applications, one at flowering and the other two weeks after flowering. The top dressing of ammonium nitrate should be applied between rows or per plant before the final earthing-up.

Planting depth is 7.5 centimetres for heavy soils and 10 to 15 centimetres for lighter soils. Distance between the rows is usually 90 centimetres. In-row spacing depends on seed size. The best planting times are before winter and toward the end of winter. For good high-quality yields, adequate water is required. Cultivation should be kept at a minimum and care should be exercised at all times to ensure tubers are not exposed.

After applying the top dressing, potatoes should be ridged up to 20 to 30 centimetres high. The first ridging will be the first weed control. The second ridging should be done after potato tubers have started to break the soil. Earthing-up should be done and completed by the time when the crop is 25 centimetres tall.

Important Factors To Consider – A Summary

Here are some important factors that you should bear in mind. Soil types should be deep, fertile and well-drained. Soil pH we highlighted earlier that it should range between 4.2 and 5.8. Climatic requirements entail being grown in summer; growing them in winter works for certain low veld areas. Spacing follows that inter-row is anything ranging from 1.2 metres to 1.8 metres whereas in-row spacing lies between 40 centimetres and 50 centimetres. The 3 options when it comes to planting times. Option one is for the first winter crop which is in November. Option two is for the second winter crop which is from February to April. Option three is for the summer crop which spans from late July to early August.

How To Choose Potato Varieties

How you choose a potato variety depends on things like planting time, yield per hectare and days to maturity. Herein are 5 varieties (with their attributes) that one can choose.

VarietySUMMERFIRST WINTER

SECOND WINTER

Yield (t/ha)Days to

Maturity

Yield (t/ha)Days to MaturityYield (t/ha)
Garnet23.29828.412025.8
Pimpernel12.49812.4
Amethyst19.59711.810815.7
BPI22.320.810821.5
Jasper12.228.512720.4

This information should give you a head start in potato farming. Thanks to Unique Farming Solutions for assisting with in-depth information.