Potato / Solanum tuberosum is a root vegetable and a cash crop and is grown widely in India and worldwide. Potato belongs to the Solanaceae family. The local names for potatoes are aloo, aloo gadde, batata, urulaikilangu, bangaladumpa, batate, batato, alu, etc. In India, it is grown in the states of UP, WB, Bihar, Gujarat, Punjab, MP, Assam, Karnataka, Haryana, and Jharkhand.
Potato is an important cash crop for farmers. It is said to be a ‘complete food’ as it contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins B, Vitamin C and minerals like Phosphorous, Calcium and Iron that are required for body growth. It is one of the major vegetable crops of the world. It is known to be the richest source of starch. Its calorific value is high, especially if fried. It produces more food per unit area than any cereal crop within a short period. In India, it is used as vegetable alone or mixed with other vegetables. Various products prepared from potato are chips, finger chips, cubes, flour, etc.
Potato is an annual plant and propagated by tubers. The thick underground stems are called stolons. Stolons are slender and arise from buds. The eyes on the potato are buds and one or more develops into stem and leaves. The height of the plant is usually 1 – 2 feet depending on the variety. Roots are shallow and superficial and extend up to 2 feet. Flowers are about an inch in diameter. Fruit is a berry but commonly not developed. Seeds are about the size of mustard and not used for propagation. The size, shape, color of the skin of tubers varies with variety.
There are many varieties of potatoes, such as Kufri Sinduri, Kufri Chandramukhi, Kufri Khasi-Garo, Kufri Chamatkar, Kufri Shectorn, Kufri Jyoti, Kufri Alankar, and Kufri Jeewan. Potatoes can be grown in fertile and well-drained soils. They do not tolerate soggy soil as they are root vegetables and will not be able to expand well underneath the soil. Loose, loamy soils are best suited for potato cultivation. Potatoes are much more in demand worldwide than in India. Sweet potato is closely related to Potatoes, but they are pink in color as compared to the light brown color of normal potatoes. They are sweet on their own and are mostly boiled and eaten as it is.
Potato dishes – Dum aloo, Batata vada, aloo bonda, potato chips, French fries, honey chili potatoes, aloo matar, aloo gobhi, aloo chaat, aloo bhujia, aloo paratha, potato wedges, spicy potatoes, Bangbang batata, aloo wadiyan, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffed potatoes, dahi batata puri, aloo tikki, aloo palak, aloo tikki burger, pav bhaji, aloo patties, smilie faces, bread rolls, crispy potatoes, baby potato roast, aloo pakoda, samosa, aloo methi, aloo baingan, aloo capsicum, aloo posto, masala dosa with aloo, vada pav, potato sagu, batata poha, urulaikizhangu thoku, chettinad urlai roast etc.
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Process of cultivating Potatoes
⦁ Time / Season / Climatic conditions –
Potatoes are normally grown in the Rabi season during October – December. Potatoes are cultivated at temperatures of 18 – 32 °C.
In hilly regions, it is planted during Jan – Feb or March – April
In the Northern Plains, it is planted during Sept-Oct, Oct – Nov, or Dec – Jan
In the plateau, it is planted during June in the Kharif season or Oct – Nov in the Rabi season
⦁ Seed rate/spacing –
Use certified seeds, to begin with. The seed rate is 1.40 kg for 10 sq. meter area. The planting distance for potato crop is 50 X 20 and 60 X 25 cm. Seed potatoes are planted 1 foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench with the eye side up. Potatoes are best grown in rows. Each potato piece is planted 3 feet apart. To grow baby potatoes, decrease the spacing.
Treat seeds with Moncern @ 2.5 ml/liter water or Boric acid @ 3% solution for ten minutes
⦁ Soil type / land preparation / irrigation –
Potatoes grow well in well-drained soils that are fertile. Loose, sandy loam soils are best suited for potato cultivation. Ensure you refrain from using water-logged soils as the potatoes will be unable to grow underneath. Test the soil before planting as always. Ensure the pH range is 5.0 – 6.5. Short day conditions are best suited to grow potatoes. Potatoes like acidic soils.
Prepare the fields after giving irrigation by giving 2 – 3 harrowings and 2 – 3 tilling before planting. Conserve the moisture by proper planking. Apply 250 – 400 g/ha of FYM, 120 -160 kg/ha N, 80 – 120 kg/ha P, and 80 – 120 kg/ha K. This must be incorporated 3 – 4 weeks before planting and half dose of nitrogen full dose of P2O5 and K2O as basal dressing at planting and remaining nitrogen dose is given at the time of earthing up.
Potatoes must be well-watered through the summer, especially during the flowering stage. Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when the tubers start to form. Potatoes need at least 1 – 2 water or rainfall per week. Drip irrigation is the best suited for potato cultivation. Potato needs irrigation at frequent intervals, depending upon the soil and climatic conditions. Usually, 6 irrigations are sufficient including pre-sowing irrigation followed by 5 – 6 light irrigations.
⦁ Weed management / Pest control –
Crop rotation is a good practice to avoid weeds. Ensure you make the land weed-free before cultivation. Hand weeding or tractor operated tillers can be used too.
Spray Sensor 70 WP @ 200g/acree or Lasso 50 EC @ 2 liter/acre before emergence of sprouts.
Spray Gramaxone 24 @ 500 – 750 ml/acre at 5 – 10% emergence of crop plants but only if weeds are there in the crop.
Cut-worms can be controlled by spraying Dursban 20 EC or apply Phorate in the soil.
Caterpillars can be controlled by spraying Thiodan or BHC (10%)
Aphid can be controlled by spraying Rogor or Nuvacron or Malathion
Jassids can be controlled by spraying Metasystox (0.1%)
Nematodes disease can be controlled by fumigating the soil with D-D
Early Blight can be controlled by spraying Dithane M-45 (0.2%)
Late blight can be controlled by spraying Dithane M-45 or Dithane Z-78 or Difolatan or Zineb.
Scab can be controlled by disinfecting the tubers with Agallol-6 or Mercuric fungicides.
Virus disease can be controlled by spraying Metasystox (0.1%) or apply Timet or Furadon in-furrow before planting.
For more such issues, please contact your local horticulturist.
After weeding operations, earth-up the soil manually or mechanically with a tractor and follow this up with irrigation.
⦁ Harvesting –
Baby potatoes are harvested 2 – 3 weeks after flowering. Potatoes must be harvested at the right stage of maturity or they turn yellow and dry. Care should be taken to dig out the potatoes without causing any injury. Damaged potatoes are discarded and the remaining are graded according to size and stored in the shade.
Cut the haulms during the 2nd / 3rd week of January. Harvest the crop during 1st / 2nd week of February and heap the produce by covering it with paddy straw for skin curing. Remove the cut / infected tubers while grading and store in the cold storages.
The average yield of potato is 200 – 300 quintals/ha.
Potatoes have a good shelf life and can be stored at normal room temperature. But if you notice them getting sprouts then it is a sign that the potato is getting spoiled and you will need to throw that potato from the lot, else it will ruin the rest as well.
Some people choose to boil potatoes and store them in the refrigerator to be used quickly in cooking. These can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Similarly, sweet potatoes can be boiled and eaten then and there or stored at room temperature for a few days before eating. Baby potatoes have a better shelf life than the other two varieties. They are also easier to cook and can be simply washed well and cooked with the skin as well. Ensure you wash the potatoes well before use as they come from underground and contain lots of sand and dirt.
Harvesting Potatoes in India –
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⦁ Benefits of Potatoes –
⦁ Potatoes contain starch and hence keep you energetic for a long time and they are also filling
⦁ They are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, fat, sodium, and calories
⦁ Potatoes are used to treat rheumatism and inflammations
⦁ They have high levels of flavonoid antioxidants and hence help in the prevention of cancer
⦁ They are known to reduce blood pressure levels
⦁ They are good for people looking to gain weight
⦁ They can prevent heart disease
⦁ Potatoes give relief from burns and scurvy
⦁ Potatoes facilitate digestion and prevent constipation
⦁ They are also excellent in the prevention of kidney stones formations
⦁ They are known to stimulate brain function and hence excellent for children
Nutritional value of Potatoes – as per Wikipedia
Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 6 mg 0%
Potassium 421 mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 17 g 5%
Protein 2 g 4%
Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 32%
Calcium 1% Iron 4%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 15%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 5%