Seed spuds are the edible potato tuber that you use for everyday consumption. I’m sure everyone has at one time or another seen the white sprouts growing out of your stored potatoes, this is the potato going to seed. The point on a potato where all this sprouting action is going on is the potato eye.
Photo Right - These potatoes have started sprouting in storage. If the time is right for planting a week in indirect sunlight will green them off nicely.
When purchasing potatoes to use for planting, it is best to buy from certified growers. Certified seed is certified disease free and true to variety. Using potatoes from the supermarket or any other non-certified source has a risk factor and is not recommended. Also potatoes from this source have often been treated to prevent sprouting. Starting with quality seed is the essence of a successful potato crop.
Regardless of your source of seed potato, check them thoroughly for quality before planting.
Your seed potatoes should be clean skinned without excessive blemishes, brown or soft spots. Splits, cracks, rough bumpy or warty looking. These are usually signs of one of the many potato diseases.
The obvious rotten ones should be the first to go. Often it is your sense of smell that will alert you to the not so obvious ones, because the rot usually starts from the inside these are sometime hard to detect until the rot is well advanced.
The cut in this potato has already started to rot and if planted will deteriorate very fast.
Cut a few open and check for signs of disease. One of the most common problems you will strike is potatoes with dry, reddish brown rot in the flesh which is caused by late blight.
Photo Left - These potatoes are well "greened" but are shriveling due to both low humidity and being left too long before planting. A few of these in your planting wont matter much, but if too big a percentage of your seed is shriveled the total yield will be lower than with better quality seed.
If you are looking to get an early start to the potato growing season, or even for later plantings, you can prepare your seed potatoes by "greening" them, often called, "chitting" before planting. They will be ready to plant outside as soon as conditions become favorable. For a page on quick starting your spud crop go to chitting potatoes
Large potatoes with three or more sprouts can be cut in half. However make sure they have enough time before planting for the cut surfaces to harden or callus, 10-14 days. Spring time in most areas is typically wet and planting seed that hasn't healed properly can cause them to rot before the emerging plant has had time to form a good root system.
Photo Right - When cutting potatoes ensure all pieces have good healthy sprout. There are two schools of thought over cutting potatoes, those who do , swear its good and those who don’t swear its not.
Sulfur in powdered form is often applied to cut potatoes to hasten healing. It is apply to the cut area and allow to dry. The sulfur is applied by, either sprinkled onto the cut portion of the potato or by putting some sulfur into a paper bag with the cut potatoes, and shaking the bag to coat the cut surfaces. Lay the cut pieces out in single layers to dry for 3-4 days.
For the average gardener using your own seed is often very tempting but unless you have an heirloom variety that you want to keep it is probably not a good idea. If you feel the strong desire to use you own seed be cautious and scrutinize the intended seed potatoes for any sign of disease.
Avoid growing a crop of potatoes or any member of the nightshade family in the same place for three years. Crop rotation is important for gardening in general, but becomes really important if saving your own seed and especially important for both potatoes and tomatoes.
Potatoes store best at 40 F (4 C) whether you have saved your own seed or purchased seed keep the potatoes at that temperature until you are ready to prepare you spuds for planting.
Growing potatoes in the home garden is usually done by using potatoes tubers as the seed rather than true seed.
Potato seeds or true seed is the small seeds found in the green fruit that form after the potato plant has finished flowering. Although it is possible to grow potatoes from these seeds it is not the norm for the average home gardener.