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I recently tried growing potatoes using a method I saw on TV. This is just cutting up potatoes into reasonable sized sections and placing them several inches down. The results have been fantastic.

While doing some research on how to grow potatoes I have read that I should be using seed potatoes, not cuttings from store bought potatoes. The main reason given is disease.

How high is the risk in using cuttings from store bought potatoes? Are there any other reasons that I should use expensive seed potatoes (considering a bag of potatoes is inexpensive and one potato cut up can produce 4 plants)?

Even Yates suggests that it is not entirely necessary:

It’s best to buy the certified disease-free seed potatoes that are available at this time of year, but you can choose healthy potatoes from your vegie drawer

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Just out of curiousity, what size roughly did you chop them into? –  ashes999 Aug 15 '13 at 10:18
    
@ashes999 - I cut them about an inch thick and about 2 - 3 inches in diameter. –  xiaohouzi79 Aug 15 '13 at 21:04

6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

One would expect that the producers of the seed potatoes are going to be better about keeping their product disease free than your average supermarket, but there are no guarantees in life. As to your chances of getting a bad, disease carrying potato from your supermarket, I'd say that depends on how well you trust that supermarket (though I'd guess it's really very low in any case).

My recommendation for buying potatoes for growing is to go to a local farmers market and pick a variety from there. You are likely to find potatoes that are already grown in your region, and you might be able to directly ask the farmer about disease for that variety, and whether or not it was grown organically.

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+1 for talking to your local farmer. You're likely to get other tips too. –  lukecyca Jun 30 '11 at 0:57

I had an entire potato crop get hit by late blight (which didn't come in via the seed potatoes) a couple of years ago. Fortunately I was able to dig the potatoes and dispose of the plants before the tubers were affected -- they were fine to eat -- but I certainly didn't save any of those for planting the following year since they would be blight hosts.

How will you know if the ones you're buying aren't hosts?

The supermarket has no idea -- nor would they care -- whether the potatoes are carrying blight. As long as the tubers themselves aren't rotten, the market will carry them on the shelves. As a consumer you have no way of knowing if the potatoes were harvested early from a field showing signs of blight.

If you're just gardening for fun and a little fresh food, the risk of losing the whole crop is minimal.

If you're dependent on harvesting potatoes for food or income, you should seriously consider getting certified disease-free seed potatoes.

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Although myself, I buy seed potatoes from a garden centre, I know a lot of seasoned gardeners who buy them from the local food store and, after chitting them, if they are larger than a hen's egg, cut them in half. I would think that the chances of their being diseased or of rotting are minimal.

If you want to play it safe, you could let the cut ends dry for a day or two, and then dust them lightly with flowers of sulphur (a fungicide), before planting. I know quite a few old-school gardeners who swear by this method and have excellent crops.

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There is another option, although it is not widely practiced. Instead of using "seed potatoes" use "potato seed".

http://www.curzio.com/N/Potato_starting_from_seed.htm

Also, I've had success planting organic potatoes bought at the grocery store that I would have otherwise eaten, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're having a really hard time finding seed potatoes.

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Do you mean you've had success planting organic potatoes from seed? Or do you recommend against organic seed potatoes, too? –  Flimzy May 2 '12 at 21:33
    
I've never even seen a potato seed in the wild. I've cut up organic potatoes though and they've come out OK - no bug problems or anything. –  Peter Turner May 2 '12 at 21:39
    
Ah, you mean organic potatoes purchased for food? –  Flimzy May 2 '12 at 21:40
    
yeah - Oh good point I should edit that in there. –  Peter Turner May 2 '12 at 21:41
    
Thanks for the clarification :) –  Flimzy May 2 '12 at 21:42

No need. If you place the potato in a damp(not very damp) place, you will see it grows a bud out of it because potato is a kind of tuber. Tuber play a main role in Vegetative reproduction.

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It doesn't even have to be damp. Dark and for long enough is usually good enough. if the buds are pretty big and the potato is going soft then we'll often just plant the potatoes rather than eat them. Nothing lost, and often we'll get a meal out of it a few months later –  winwaed Jun 27 '11 at 14:07

Another thing to keep in mind about supermarket potatoes is that they are typically treated with a chemical retardant to slow down the production of "eyes," which are what become the stems of the potato plant.

And you should try to cut the potato so that you have at least 1 if not several "eyes" on each piece that you intend to plant.

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