2021 Potato Tuber Sales
In 2021, we had a widespread outbreak of late blight, much more than I usually have to manage. One of the consequences is that I need to take a year off from growing potatoes and perhaps find new ways to go about it. So, I will definitely not be offering potato tubers next year and I’m not completely sure when I will offer them again or in what form.
In order to protect this years tubers from infection by blight, I harvested them early, before the rainy season arrives. This greatly reduces the chances of tuber infection. Tubers were washed in a dilute bleach solution, fan dried, and then allowed to sit for several weeks under conditions of high ambient humidity to see if any blight developed. The good news is that I have seen no blight development on any lot of tubers harvested so far this year. So, while the exposure was greater than usual, there appears to be no more blight among tubers than there has been in previous years and I feel confident offering the crop.
Treating the tubers this way has affected their appearance. You may notice that the skin has darkened or browned, particularly at the tips or where skin has peeled. This is a reaction to being bleached and dried. Blight, if it should appear, will begin as dark, sunken lesions that rapidly expand and progress to rot. If you see that on any tubers, you should discard them and request a refund.
The early harvest creates some new problems. It will be an eight month wait before March, which is when I typically ship most of the potatoes. Some of the potatoes that I offer do not have a long enough dormancy period to wait that long in good condition. Because of that, I am going to offer the potatoes for shipping starting in late August this year. That will enable me to send them before freezing weather in most of the country. It will then be up to you. High dormancy varieties will keep long enough for most climates and you can store them in the refrigerator to slow them down.
Low dormancy potatoes will need some work to overwinter. If you live in a frost-free climate, you can just start growing them as soon as they sprout. But the majority of you will be in climates with freezing winters. In that case, I recommend growing the low dormancy varieties in pots over the winter. A quart/liter pot is sufficient and will help to limit the size of the plants. You will then have a fresh crop of your own seed tubers ready to plant in the spring. This will be necessary only for varieties with really low dormancy like Bloody Banana and Twanoh. Most of the rest will give you months of good dormancy, particularly if you refrigerate them. If you find them sprouting before you are ready in the spring, you can pot them at that point and transplant to the field when you are ready.
Also as a consequence of the early harvest, the tubers are smaller than normal, so I will mostly be offering small tuber packets this year.
This is more fuss than you would normally have to deal with, but there isn’t much that I can do about it. I don’t think that I will be able to keep the low dormancy types in good enough condition to ship in spring, so fall is probably going to be the only opportunity for you to order them before, at the earliest, fall of 2023. Because of the early harvest, I have a smaller crop than normal and, if demand is anything like normal, it will probably sell out early.
Here are my recommendations for storage by variety:
|Variety||Storage Recommendation||Expect Sprouting @ Room Temp||Expect Sprouting w/Refrigeration|
|Skagit Valley Gold||Refrigerator||December||February|