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  #1  
Old 07/18/09, 01:38 PM
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Planting grocery store potatoes...

Anyone have a link as to why we should not plant grocery store potatoes? I know grocery store potatoes are treated with a growth inhibitor. I know grocery store potatoes may carry disease. I also know you should not compost grocery store potatoes, because of the growth inhibitors. However, I can not find a site to back up my knowledge.

My mother is 78 years old and in my opinion a touch looney. She has planted a row of potatoes in her garden. The row was growing nicely and now suddenly the entire row is dead. She lives in a nice sub-division with friendly neighbors. She is convinced one of her neighbors has sprayed her row of potato plants killing them. This really is a ridiculous hypothesis. She hasn't made any enemies, and why would someone sabotage only the potatoes? All other garden plants are fine.

Does anyone have a link bookmarked that would back up my advice, that it was planting grocery store potatoes that killed the row? She isn't heeding my advice, because back in the day they always planted grocery store potatoes.

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  #2  
Old 07/18/09, 02:01 PM
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I'd like to see that link too because I've planted grocery store potatoes before; this was much of my harvest last year from fingerlings, bakers and reds that sprouted before I used them up so I stuck them in the ground. Grown in a 3' x 8' ish area, mulched with straw but otherwise basically ignored.

This year I ordered 5lbs of unusual seed potatoes, picked up some fingerlings at an organic market, bought 1lb of Norlands from a local farmer and tossed in some other plebeian grocery spuds along with some Yukon Golds (in a plastic bag) that never sprouted. Disgusted, I tossed them in the end of my bed (4'x 20'ish this year). Guess which ones are thriving?

I haven't a clue what killed your mother's potatoes. How long ago did she plant them? 2 or 3 months ago? Dying plants can be a sign it's time to dig and enjoy.

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  #3  
Old 07/18/09, 02:35 PM
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Potato Famine Blight

I just read about something that might be your tater culprit. This year, for the first time in decades there is a big problem with the blight that caused the Irish potato famines. It has made it as far West as Indiana from what I know, and was showing up at garden centers all over the Eastern US. It was spreading rapidly from what they said.

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  #4  
Old 07/19/09, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegirl View Post
Anyone have a link as to why we should not plant grocery store potatoes? I know grocery store potatoes are treated with a growth inhibitor. I know grocery store potatoes may carry disease. I also know you should not compost grocery store potatoes, because of the growth inhibitors. However, I can not find a site to back up my knowledge.
You are correct that you are unable to find a site to back up what is 99% untrue. 99% of store potatoes have never been treated with any growth inhibitors. (Neither has the other 1%!) Every potato may carry a disease but those purchased in a store have the least chance. And see first statement as to why you can't find anything to back up the non-compost claim.

Quote:
My mother is 78 years old and in my opinion a touch looney. She has planted a row of potatoes in her garden. The row was growing nicely and now suddenly the entire row is dead. She lives in a nice sub-division with friendly neighbors. She is convinced one of her neighbors has sprayed her row of potato plants killing them. This really is a ridiculous hypothesis. She hasn't made any enemies, and why would someone sabotage only the potatoes? All other garden plants are fine.
Since variety and date of planting are missing from the given information, one can only assume that the plants were probably mature and did what any other potato plant does, died.

Martin
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  #5  
Old 07/19/09, 02:36 PM
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I think that is a bunch of hooey spread by the producers of seed potatoes. The only time I had a failed crop was when I planted "seed potatoes". I've been planting store potatoes for close to 20 years and always have a great crop. I throw them into the compost pile too where they procede to grow and flourish.

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  #6  
Old 07/19/09, 02:59 PM
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WooHoo!!!

I just notice that Martin is back!!

I order some of his garlic for next seasons planting.

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  #7  
Old 07/19/09, 06:22 PM
 
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I planted some store bought potatoes this year and planted them primarily because they had already sprouted nicely in the cabinet, but when we went to eat them they were extremely bitter. (bitter enough to warrant a poison control call..I am pregnant and my 1 year old son may have eaten a bite)

The Master Gardeners and several others I spoke to thought it was because I planted the store potatoes. The idea being that they were bitter because they were stressed because of the growth inhibitor.

I always thought it wasn't a big deal....sounds like you all have had success. Makes me wonder all over why they tasted that way? I dug up the whole crop and said goodbye!

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Old 07/19/09, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by jedsmom View Post
I planted some store bought potatoes this year and planted them primarily because they had already sprouted nicely in the cabinet, but when we went to eat them they were extremely bitter. (bitter enough to warrant a poison control call..I am pregnant and my 1 year old son may have eaten a bite)

The Master Gardeners and several others I spoke to thought it was because I planted the store potatoes. The idea being that they were bitter because they were stressed because of the growth inhibitor.

I always thought it wasn't a big deal....sounds like you all have had success. Makes me wonder all over why they tasted that way? I dug up the whole crop and said goodbye!
If they'd been treated with a "growth inhibitor", they would never have sprouted much less produced potatoes. Why yours were bitter I don't know; I do know that when I was pregnant many foods tasted "off" to me.
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  #9  
Old 07/19/09, 06:41 PM
 
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I have always had my best results from grocery store ronin potatoes. If they're already sprouting in the pantry, they WANNA grow! So encourage 'em, I say. The fancy seed potatoes I have tried were all miserable failures.

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  #10  
Old 07/19/09, 06:43 PM
 
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That's what I thought--- hence why I planted them. Guess I just needed extra encouragement that I was thinking about this right...I knew I didn't agree with the growth inhibitor explanation. thanks.

Also, FYI-- my husband ate them too and actually tasted the bitter before me...otherwise I would have written it off as hormones. It was certainly strange.

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  #11  
Old 07/19/09, 07:45 PM
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I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Master Gardeners and others chose to present an old wife's tale as the reason for bitterness which is exactly how these misconceptions get promulgated. I don't doubt your family's "tasters" (yours? well, sure, I couldn't stomach cantaloupe for 20 years after I was pregnant so why not?) of your seed stock but by growing conditions. That means that even if you'd purchased very expensive, organic, "Mother Nature kissed" spud starts your results would have been the same.

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  #12  
Old 07/19/09, 09:06 PM
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Potatoes are clones and their tubers will always produce true to whatever the seed piece was no matter if bought from a store, farmers market, or your own cellar. They are so true to their ancestral lineage that mutations are almost genetically impossible. Freshly dug potatoes always are more bitter than stored potatoes. The first thing that you are tasting is the solanine which is present in every potato and usually just under the skin. Next are the starches which all potatoes have in various percentage. When the starches begin to break down into sugars, the natural bitterness goes away.

Martin

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  #13  
Old 07/21/09, 12:44 PM
 
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The first year we grew potoatoes we grew grocery store potatoes and got a bumper crop. They were give to me as a case of potatoes that had all sprouted. Only bad part was that gophers got so many of them. Our russets didn't do as well as the thin skinned yellow ones we grew, but they did alright.

This year we grew store bought russets in barrels and they are among our healthiest plants. The red's I bought from the grocery store definitly had something on them to inhibit them from sprouting and they rotted in the ground.

From my experience it seems if they've got growth inhibitor on them they'd not get going in the first place, like my red potatoes. I have heard of the suicide gene they are putting in some GMO grains, but never heard of that with potatoes.

I don't know what killed your mothers potatoes, but success with store bought types seems to be determined by whether they were treated or not and maybe whether they have already sprouted or not? Some potatoes sold at the grocery store are definitly not treated because they sprout on my shelf like crazy where as others will rot first.

Did she dig them up and see if they had made any progress under ground?

Sure seems weird. I can't imagine anyone spraying them either unless they were along the road and they sprayed for weeds and she got some drift.

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  #14  
Old 07/21/09, 12:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paquebot View Post
Potatoes are clones and their tubers will always produce true to whatever the seed piece was no matter if bought from a store, farmers market, or your own cellar. They are so true to their ancestral lineage that mutations are almost genetically impossible. Freshly dug potatoes always are more bitter than stored potatoes. The first thing that you are tasting is the solanine which is present in every potato and usually just under the skin. Next are the starches which all potatoes have in various percentage. When the starches begin to break down into sugars, the natural bitterness goes away.

Martin
I always learn so much for your posts!
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Old 07/21/09, 01:39 PM
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I always learn so much for your posts!
Then you shall learn more!

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From my experience it seems if they've got growth inhibitor on them they'd not get going in the first place, like my red potatoes. I have heard of the suicide gene they are putting in some GMO grains, but never heard of that with potatoes.
Spraying of any growth inhibitor ended years ago. The only one used was only in storage and was derived from mint. If you were buying store potatoes 15-20 years ago, the potato section would often smell of mint. It required a fumigating system in a sealed warehouse. That was discontinued years ago as too costly and dangerous. It was also only temporary but the tubers would eventually sprout and grow normally.

There really is a potato growth inhibitor, maleic hydrazide or MH-30. One could spray it on every single potato in a store and they all would still sprout. MH-30 is, believe it or not, applied to the seed pieces just prior to planting. It is taken up by the plant and transferred back into the new tubers. That practice is employed by specialty growers who can not have volunteer plants growing in their fields. Pre-packaged fingerlings are one type which is most likely grown with treated seed pieces. Large baking potatoes are another type grown with treated seed to delay eye formation.

No need to worry about the terminator gene since all work on it stopped over 10 years ago. It ceased when Monsanto purchased the company which was trying to develop it. Never was used anywhere else since it never completely existed.

Martin
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  #16  
Old 07/21/09, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Paquebot View Post
Freshly dug potatoes always are more bitter than stored potatoes.
I suspect tolerance for "bitterness" varies from person to person because mine last year were so delicious and crisp freshly dug, we devoured them quickly! Fingers crossed this year's spuds will be just as tasty.

I'll add my thanks to Martin for sharing his wisdom and knowledge yet again.
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  #17  
Old 07/21/09, 06:22 PM
 
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This has been a super informative thread- thanks all!

I won't be afraid to grow potatoes again...perhaps I'll let them cure a while before eating next year as per Martin's advice.

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  #18  
Old 07/21/09, 09:22 PM
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Another thing is that there is nothing that one can do to completely eliminate the bitterness. Excess glycoalkaloids are naturally present in certain plants and responsible for their bitter taste. In the case of potatoes the sugars and alkaloids combine to form solanine and some varieties naturally have more than others. It's one reason why eating raw potatoes may cause severe intestinal discomfort in some people.

Martin

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  #19  
Old 07/22/09, 07:06 AM
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I planted both, 5 lbs whites and 5 lbs red seed potatoes also planted some pantry sprouting spuds, the out come was, the white potatoes grew well produced a very large amount of potatoes, the reds grew as well with big potatoes but were attacked by something under ground that eat their share, but the store bought one were a different story, they grew plant wise as big and as green as the others with the same amount of potatoes maybe a little bigger(go figure)but the skin was rougher and thicker, with no under ground worm or bug damage like the thin skin reds had along with some damage on the white bought seed potatoes, So I will plant store bought ones, Oh ask the produce man for the old ones in the back (may give them to you) Later Guilt Trip

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  #20  
Old 07/25/09, 08:26 PM
 
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Here is my potato bed as of this week.

Six 50 foot rows of commercial seed and grocery store sprouted. About 10 feet in one of these rows is second year seed from 2 that sprouted in the kitchen cabinet and planted last year. Those two yielded some excellent roasting potatoes and a bunch of smaller ones I wintered over in the garage and planted this year.

Here is what I gathered this evening for dinner.


Some are new commercial seed bought this spring, and some are from the sprouted stuff. All of it was delicous roasted in a pan for dinner!

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  #21  
Old 07/25/09, 09:59 PM
 
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I tried store bought potatoes that had sprouted and they did not come up.

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  #22  
Old 07/25/09, 10:31 PM
 
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I dont grow them every year, but over the years I've only grown store bought potatoes and have never had problems. One year I did grow some unknown small white ones that didnt produce much, but the vines were healthy. I'm still not sure what happened.

Sometimes potatoes will be bitter if they have been exposed to the sun and have any green on them.

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  #23  
Old 07/28/09, 03:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paquebot View Post
Then you shall learn more!


Spraying of any growth inhibitor ended years ago. The only one used was only in storage and was derived from mint. If you were buying store potatoes 15-20 years ago, the potato section would often smell of mint. It required a fumigating system in a sealed warehouse. That was discontinued years ago as too costly and dangerous. It was also only temporary but the tubers would eventually sprout and grow normally.

There really is a potato growth inhibitor, maleic hydrazide or MH-30. One could spray it on every single potato in a store and they all would still sprout. MH-30 is, believe it or not, applied to the seed pieces just prior to planting. It is taken up by the plant and transferred back into the new tubers. That practice is employed by specialty growers who can not have volunteer plants growing in their fields. Pre-packaged fingerlings are one type which is most likely grown with treated seed pieces. Large baking potatoes are another type grown with treated seed to delay eye formation.

No need to worry about the terminator gene since all work on it stopped over 10 years ago. It ceased when Monsanto purchased the company which was trying to develop it. Never was used anywhere else since it never completely existed.

Martin
Great to know Martin, thanks so much for taking the time to share this info.
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  #24  
Old 07/28/09, 06:03 PM
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MN Gardener, if you give us some more info we can help figure out what went wrong. Time of year, soil type, how deep, how much if any fertilizer and when, mulch, water, temps. So many variables. Even birds can pick the sprouts off before the poor spuds have a chance to grow much.

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  #25  
Old 07/29/09, 01:53 AM
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I planted Reds and Browns in the same row. They were Organic Store Bought Potatoes, since we were a bit short on money (5 years ago). The potatoes at either end were true to what we planted. The plants in the center of that row produced the most bizarre potatoes that were literally striped inside with red/white. They didn't taste like either type I planted, and were actually rather yucky/fibrous. I have never had that happen before or since. Never solved that mystery, but was paranoid about planting them in the same row again...

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  #26  
Old 08/26/09, 09:53 AM
 
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Well what do you know! Our experience growing store bought potatoes this year was totally different than our last experience. I already posted about the first time, bumper crop.

This year, nada!

The reds I bought rotted in the ground and never got going.

The russets we grew ended out much like the ones in the OP. Martin mentioned they don't use inhibitors anymore... could there be some hold outs still using them maybe?

The russets we planted were already sprouted nicely when planted. The grew nice, big, healthy looking plants too. Last week the plants died so we dug them up and nearly nothing! Out of two large barrels we got maybe a dozen seed size potatoes that's it.

The heirlooms I have planted next to them are still doing great.

I don't know what the cause is, isn't the growth inhibitor to keep them from sprouting while in storage? It seems like if they had some sort of growth inhibitor on them they would not have sprouted in the first place and certainly would not have grown nice, big, healthy looking plants.

So if the plants grew so well, but did not produce potatoes what could be the problem? Are some producers using something new to stop folks from growing store bought potatoes?

I might just plant that dozen seed potatoes just to see what happens with them.

So if not a growth inhibitor what could have caused these healthy plants to die without producing. They seemed to be right on schedule for harvesting ????

.

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Last edited by Honeybee; 08/26/09 at 09:57 AM.
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  #27  
Old 08/26/09, 12:26 PM
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I prefer to use my own potatoes as seed for each following year, but do so carefully, to make sure they are from healthy plants. In years past, I had excellent results using:

Organic Store Bought Potatoes! They always rooted & produced, and I don't believe that any inhibitor would pass the grade requirement.

This year, I was very glad that I did get seed potatoes free from issues. With all the problems, I will go with the ones I liked the best and use my own seed potatoes next year. The ones I used from last year bore better and yields were higher.

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Old 08/26/09, 02:01 PM
 
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Originally Posted by lorichristie View Post
I prefer to use my own potatoes as seed for each following year, but do so carefully, to make sure they are from healthy plants. In years past, I had excellent results using:

Organic Store Bought Potatoes! They always rooted & produced, and I don't believe that any inhibitor would pass the grade requirement.

This year, I was very glad that I did get seed potatoes free from issues. With all the problems, I will go with the ones I liked the best and use my own seed potatoes next year. The ones I used from last year bore better and yields were higher.
How and where do you store your seed potatoes for the following season?
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  #29  
Old 08/26/09, 02:30 PM
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I always plant grocery store potatoes, I have never in my life bought seed potatoes -- usually have a pretty fair crop, but some years are worse than others. SOunds like she had some bad luck of some sort (insect, disease, lack of nutrients in the soil, etc)

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  #30  
Old 08/26/09, 05:20 PM
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Store seed potatoes just like regular potatoes. This year though I am planning an experiment. I have had such good success with overwintered potatoes that I missed when harvesting. They produce like gangbusters and have been exceptionally healthy plants. So I am going to plant potatoes in October or November and see what happens. I have some that are green and some little ones to try with.

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