Certified Seed Potatoes

That's a lot of spuds

CFC Farm & Home Center sells roughly 45,000 pounds of potatoes through our five locations, to gardeners and farmers in Culpeper, Rappahannock, Fauquier, Orange and other adjoining counties in central Virginia. Not being familiar with potato yields, I did a little research and found that a good rule of thumb is for each pound of spuds planted, you will yield about 10 pounds of produce. If you will allow me this assumption, this crop represents 450,000 pounds of potatoes harvested by our customers. Besides the traditional Kennebec, Pontiac and Cobbler, we also stock Yukon Gold and Blue and Red flesh potatoes. The colored potatoes go fast, so buy early.

Why plant Certified Seed Potatoes

Let's go back to the title of this article and answer the question, why Certified Seed Potatoes? After all, potatoes are readily available in any grocery store. In order for a seed potato to become certified, it is inspected at least twice in the field during the growing season. Once the potatoes pass these field inspections for signs of disease, they are harvested and put into storage. Samples are taken from the various lots of the harvested crop, and then shipped to a warmer climate, where they are grown December through January. These plantings are identifiable back to the original lots. These test batches must be verified through onsite inspection not to exceed acceptable tolerances for various diseases such as blights, mosaic viruses, wilts and others. Once they pass these inspections, the lots can be certified and the bags are given a Blue Certification tag. This is your assurance that you are buying a healthy spud for your field or garden.

How to grow them

If you haven't harvested new potatoes in the spring, you may not know what a treat you are missing. To get started, about 1 pound of seed potatoes will provide roughly enough eyes to plant about 10 feet of garden row. According to Virginia Cooperative Extension publication 426-413 from Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, you should plant 1.5 oz to 2 oz pieces of potato. Each piece should have at least one good eye. The spuds should be spaced 10 to 12 inches apart along the row, and allow 24 to 36 inches between rows. Fertilizer requirements are 2.5lbs of 5-10-10 per 50 ft row. Plan on sidedressing 1 or 2 times through the season, with 1 lb 10-10-10 per 50 ft row. These recommendations, and more, can be found in Virginia Cooperative extension publication 426-413. This publication offers complete detailed information about planting your potatoes. The Authors are Extension Horticulture specialists Diane Relf, and Alan McDaniel.