St. Patrick’s Day Marks the Start of Potato Planting Season

By Trish Svoboda

Historically, St. Patrick’s Day marks the ideal time to start planting potatoes. According to K-State University horticulture expert, Cynthia Domenghini, anytime from mid-to late-march is a good time to plant potatoes.

“Be sure to buy seed potatoes rather than using those bought for cooking,” said Domenghini. “Seed potatoes are certified disease-free and have plenty of starch to sprout as quickly as soil temperatures allow.”

Domenghini said seed potatoes can usually be cut into four pieces, and that each seed should have more than one eye, and weigh between 1.5 and 2 ounces. A pound of seed potatoes typically yields 8 to 10 pieces. She said to “cut the seed two to three days before planting so that freshly cut surfaces have a chance to suberize, or toughen, which provides a protective coating. Storing seeds in a warm location during suberization will speed the process.”

Domenghini suggests planting seeds in rows 8 to 12 inches apart and one to two inches deep.

“Though it is important to plant potatoes in March, they emerge slowly,” she said. “It is often mid- to late-April before new plants poke their way through the soil. As the potatoes grow, pull soil up to the base of the plants. New potatoes are borne above the planted seed piece and it is important to keep sunlight from hitting the new potatoes.”

Domenghini said keeping potatoes covered will prevent them from turning green and producing a poisonous substance called solanine.

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