Seed potatoes are different from potatoes used for eating because they are grown specifically for planting to produce more potatoes. Usually smaller than grocery store potatoes, seed potatoes are often treated with a product to guard against fungus and mildew. Also, seed potatoes are not washed or prepared for human consumption.
Seed potatoes go through a process where they are certified by the state where they originated. The certification process is to prevent bacterial and fungal problems from spreading from one farm to another. Not only are the seed potatoes coming from each farm inspected, but the equipment is also inspected. Because potato diseases can live in the soil for several years, it is a good idea to buy certified seed potatoes, if possible. All sales literature from the place they are purchased or ordered will show that the seed potatoes are certified.
Check for Disease
Even if the seed potatoes are certified, you must carefully inspect see potatoes you are purchasing for disease. Look for soft spots or damp blackened areas on the potatoes. Seed potatoes are naturally dirty, so you must look carefully for any problems. The skin of the seed potatoes should be smooth with no scab-like growths or unusual deformities. Do not accept seed potatoes that are split or cracked, as this usually signifies nematode damage.
Choosing Correct Variety
It is important to choose a variety that grows well in your area. There are many different varieties of seed potatoes to choose from, and choosing can be difficult. There are red, white, yellow and even purple varieties of seed potatoes. The best place to find out the best variety of seed potatoes to plant in your area is to contact your local County Agricultural Extension Office. Every county in every state in the United States has an extension office that can assist you in not only choosing the best variety of seed potato to plant, but where to buy certified seed.
While everyone loves fresh new potatoes from the garden, you may have difficulty storing a large amount of potatoes if you grow too many. Every variety of potato produces a different amount of potatoes per plant, but you should expect an average three to five potatoes for each seed potato planted. You can divide the potatoes before planting or plant the entire tubers depending on the size of the seed potato. Each section or seed potato should have at least three viable eyes or sprouts before planting. For a 100 foot row, you need to buy eight to 12 lbs. of certified seed potatoes.