Potato question

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Janis Sauncy, Apr 22, 2006.

  1. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

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    A couple of potato questions:

    It used to be that I could find a nice variety of seed potatoes in local nurseries and sometimes feedstores. Yellow Finn, Yukon Gold, to name a couple. But, the last couple of years they've been hard to come by in that manner (I live in western Washington). When I was looking for them last year (when I still lived in southwest Washington), I found only one place that carried them and they had to travel quite a distance to find them and they weren't even in very good shape.

    I know you can order from the seed companies and I have a catalog from a company that just sells potatoes, but I don't want that many but I will order by mail if I have to.

    My question is: years ago I remember hearing that you should not use your grocery-store russets as seed potatoes but I can't remember the reason why. Something about them being treated with something maybe?

    Anyway, just curious. If anyone uses grocery-store potatoes with good results or know why I shouldn't, please let me know.
     
  2. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    i use grocery store potatoes as seed potatoes

    i'm sure someone will disagree, but i'm 100% sure that all those rumors were started by the seed companies.

    i have white russets growing all over my yard, best damn tater in existance, all growing like huge mutants out of a sci-fi movie, all were bought as eating taters that i didnt get around to eating before they sprouted.
     

  3. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, now that you mention it, I remember my dad having volunteer potatoes all over his compost pile. Couldn't remember, though, if he ate them.

    And, I kind of wondered, too, about that rumour thing.

    My garden here at the new place is in the very early stages of planning and development and won't be very big this year. That's why I'm not too concerned about having a large variety of potatoes. I just want to get something into the ground (or straw, in the case of potatoes). Next year I can mail order and get more stuff.

    Thanks.
     
  4. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    It's not a rumor although I also have been often saying the same thing. I just ran into it myself when I bought some gourmet potatoes, Finn Rose and Purple Majesty. Planted them and then decided to contact the farm that grew them. They informed me that they indeed used MH-30, maleic hydrazide. That certainly burst my balloon! That was on 4 April. The "seed" was dug up and placed in damp sand to see if they'll sprout. Finn Rose eyes look as if they may eventually come to life. Purple Majesty is showing no sign of sprouting at all.

    Here's what's allowed and used: www.mainepotatopestguide.com/potatosproutinhibitors.asp

    Martin
     
  5. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

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    Oh. And, now it makes sense why I haven't had a potato sprout in the bag in a long time. It just didn't occur to me to wonder why.

    Do you suppose the use of the inhibitor is more widespread than it used to be, because I sure do remember some pretty sprouty grocery store spuds? And, I know my father's compost pile used to sprout some pretty healthy-looking potato plants. But, that too was some time ago.
     
  6. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    The use of sprout inhibitors depends upon the end use of the potato. Many varieties can be held in storage for a long time without any chemicals if the temperature is low enough. However, every variety of potato has a built-in dormancy period and breaking that is often determined by a temperature change. In the case of ordinary eating potatoes, time from storage to the stores and then to the customers may be barely a week's time. By the time the customer finishes the bag, it's still within the normal dormancy period. If those are then left, they'll eventually sprout with no problem. However, the expensive gourmet types need to have a much longer shelf life since they are not being moved by the ton. That's what I ended up with. The Finn Rose were even on the verge of becoming just a bit soft and still not a single sign of life from the many eyes.

    I also know that this is not the case with all of those fancy gourmet potatoes. A friend purchased a mixed bag of fingerlings and also decided to plant them. She contacted the company first and found that nothing was used as a sprout inhibitor and that's why I decided to do the same. Different company involved but honest enough tell me that they use MH-30. They use it to eliminate volunteer plants the following year.

    Martin
     
  7. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    well, ok, so it exists.

    that doesn't mean it's use is widespread though.

    one simple way to get around that is 1) pick thru the grocery bin to find one with the eyes already sprouting, and 2) leave only plant eyes that have growths already on them (this is what i do, since i plant the taters i dont eat)

    100% success rate this way.
     
  8. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    oh, you might also buy your taters from a health food store if you just cant find sprouted taters at your local mega chains.
     
  9. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

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    Ok, say I don't know if my grocery-store potatoes have been treated, and, say I go ahead and cut some up and plant, and, say some manage to sprout anyway even if they've been treated (maybe it wasn't a thorough treatment but they did get a dose), is there any danger in eating those potatoes that come from treated potatoes, even if they didn't get a large enough dose to prevent sprouting? Make sense?
     
  10. Janis Sauncy

    Janis Sauncy Well-Known Member

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    Duh! I'm going to answer my own question. If they're treated before they go to the store and you eat them, of course you can eat the offspring!

    (God, Janis, think before you post!)