The Herald (Harare)

21 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Tips On Potato Planting

The Seed Potato Association production manual advises farmers on the correct procedures to follow when planting potatoes. According to the manual, correct planting ensures rapid emergence and uniformity of the crop, both of which are influenced by conditions of the seed tuber and soil.

Soil structure, moisture and temperature determine soil conditions while seed conditions are determined by physiological stage of tubers and their size.

Planting depth depends on moisture content and temperature.

Seed should be planted deeper under dry and warm conditions while under cool and wet conditions the seed should be shallowly planted.

By adjusting planting depth, potato cultivation can be adapted to existing conditions of moisture and temperature.

The recommended planting depth is 7 to 10 cm measured to the top of the tuber.

Planting depth can therefore vary from season to season and from field to field.

Sprouted seed should be carefully handled during transportation and planting as sprout damage could result in non-uniform emergence.

Furrows are opened, followed by placing or banding the fertiliser in the furrow, slightly covering and then laying the seed.

The seed should be covered shortly afterwards and irrigating will reduce the chances of seed scotching.

Seed covering can incorporate ridging or as most common, the furrows, are just covered to achieve a flat surface.

The first irrigation should not saturate the soil as this may lead to seed decay due to lack of oxygen.

In cases where the soil saturation is likely, pre-planting irrigation should be considered.

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