Extremely poor potato crop this year

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Woodland Jennifer, Nov 24, 2014.

  1. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    My fourteen rows of potatoes, new seed and old, was the worst crop I have ever had in thirty years. Some other people in this area complained of the same problem. Does anyone have any idea what this could be. I did the same as I did all these years. I rotate, and don't grow in the same place again for four years. About five different varieties, all grown before. I haven't bought a potato in thirty years as I root-cellar them over winter until the next season. This year I shall have to buy shop potatoes. This is Zone 5a in the Arrow Lakes area in the interior of British Columbia.
    Thanks. Jennifer
     
  2. Keke

    Keke Active Member 10 Years

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    When you say "worst," what do you mean? Were the potatoes small, diseased, eaten, what? How did the tops look over the growing season? Do you irrigate/fertilize, or just let them go with what Nature provides? Just need a bit more info...

    I had a bad harvest this year as well, but I suspect two potato bags on my rooftop in downtown Vancouver is a whole lot different than your fourteen rows in Nakusp. (I'm thinking my problem was because of using a different soil mix this year -- back to the old reliable method next year.)
    cheers
    keke
     
  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Maybe it was the hot and sunny summer.
     
  4. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I agree with Keke. How could anyone give you any advice when knowing nothing about your soil, your gardening practices, about the nature of the problem?
    Weather alone could not be the reason. My weather is very similar to yours but my potatoes were better than ever this year.

    I started growing potatoes several years ago, after learning that potatoes are on the list of crops most contaminated with chemicals that they accumulate in their tubers. I grow mine naturally.
     
  5. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    By the worst crop I mean, very few potatoes and those which were there were small. I did the same this year as I have done for many years. We don't use any chemicals in our garden or on our fifty odd fruit trees. We keep a couple of hives of bees but manage them with essential oils, not chemicals.
    We trench rotted horse manure into our veg. garden. which Until recently was double-dug each year and a lot of rotted cow manure put in. No more cows. My husband fertilized lightly with 13-16-10 a couple of times the past two years. Ours is a sandy soil, no clay. They were watered with the sprinler the same as other years. Weather was no different to other years. We mulched with old hay this year but have done this a couple of times before too.

    Ron, this summer wasn't much different in our area, the interior, Arrow Lakes, to previous years.

    Sundrop, I agree with you about the potatoes one buys in shops. We wouldn't eat them. This is what is so upsetting. I shall plant more rows next year in case I have the same problem. I knew a man who lived near a farmer in Alberta. He said the farmer grew his own potatoes in a different area to those which he grew to sell. I believe too, that many potatoes have been genetically interfered with for the potato beetle.
    People I know, 25 miles away had excellent crops.

    Thank you for your response.
    Jennifer
     
  6. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I understand, your plants were growing well, they just didn't produce tubers? Could be over-fertilization or chemical imbalance in the soil, with all the manure you put in, and some chemical fertilizer in addition. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing. I can't think of any other reason.

    There are viral diseases that can reduce quality and the number of tubers, but they should show in the foliage, as well.

    My advice is: next year try to plant your Potatoes in less fertile spot in your garden and see if it helps.
     
  7. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    Thank you for the advice. Next year I shall do as you suggest. I shall also keep a close eye on the foliage but on reflection, I didn't see a problem. I look at the garden from the kitchen window so hard to miss. Maybe I missed something. I was thinking of not using an old hay mulch next year.
    Jennifer
     
  8. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I use mulch and cover crops to make my soil fertile. Mulch provides home and food for soil organisms that in turn produce nutrients, in right proportion, for plants. This approach works very well for me. I collect grass and red clover clippings from my own backyard. I don't use any herbi-, fungi-, pesti-cides, or synthetic fertilizers. I would say old hay mulch is great, as long as you know where it is coming from and what is in it.
    After hilling-up my Potato plants I put a thick layer of mulch on top. But I don't use any manure, I think everything together could be a little bit too much.

    I feel sorry you don't have enough potatoes this year. I eat my potatoes with their skins, usually baked, coated with garlic and hot curry powders. What a treat! I wish you better luck the next year!

    "Gardening is something you learn by doing - and by making mistakes. Like cooking, gardening is a constant process of experimentation, repeating the successes and throwing out the failures."- Carol Stocker
     
  9. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    How many times do you hill your potatoes before putting on a mulch? I usually hill them three times. The old hay is from our own fields, and also, with no pesticides or herbicides.
    We eat our potatoes with the skins on too, usually baked. I then use my home-made HOT cayenne pepper sauce with home-made apple sauce, both from our own grown produce. I like the idea of hot curry powders, thanks. I love curry. Do you just put the curry powder on or make it into a sauce with the garlic?
    Jennifer
     
  10. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I planted my potatoes in the middle of April, put the mulch most likely in the first decade of June, started harvesting first potatoes in the third decade of July, did final harvesting in the third decade of September. Can't say how many times I hilled the plants with soil, didn't pay attention. I consider mulching as a kind of hilling up, too.

    For baking I coat the potatoes with garlic and hot curry powders, after coating them with Sunflower oil first (I don't like Olive oil). I don't make a sauce, I like my baked potatoes dry.

    Looks like you have quite a farm!
     
  11. Woodland Jennifer

    Woodland Jennifer Active Member

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    Thank you Sundrop for the information about baking potatoes. I am going to try it, it sounds good. As you say, mulching would be a kind of hilling up. I just remembered that we grew some potatoes in among the grape vines and there was no problem with them, just those in the garden. On reflection, after these discussions here, I am thinking the horse manure might be the problem. This is a fairly recent thing, using it and last year the manure came from a different place.
    We are retired now but used to have quite a farm, cows, pigs and sheep. We still raise our own chickens for eggs and meat.
    Jennifer
     
  12. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Hello Jennifer,

    After reading your latest response I searched the Net (with Bing http://www.bing.com/ for herbicides in horse manure ) and got literally horrified by the information there.
    It looks like old approach of manuring, that worked so well for gardeners over hundreds or even thousands of years, is quite dangerous enterprise nowadays.

    There are certain group of people, that call themselves scientists, that work on ever growing number of insane ideas in complete isolation and separation and disregard for the broader environment their inventions will be used in. Humanity is conducting the greatest experiment on itself that could be conceived!

    Among other things, the number and variety of poisons being invented is staggering, and those poisons tend to be more and more potent, and, as the speed of their introduction indicates very clearly, not tested for safety almost at all, and not at all for safety in the long run.
    Herbicides are one kind of those poisons. As is said in one of the articles http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/f09Herbicide "These herbicides pass through the animal’s digestive tract and are excreted in urine and manure." and "some field reports indicate that breakdown can take as long as three to four years. Degradation is particularly slow in piles of manure and compost. When mulches, manures, or composts with herbicide activity are applied to fields or gardens to raise certain vegetables, flowers, or other broadleaf crops, potentially devastating damage can occur."
    Another article http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/killer-compost-herbicide-contamination-zl0z1211zkin.aspx#axzz3KlXXy0dv says: "These poisons are so powerful that they can damage sensitive crops at levels as low as 10 parts per billion, according to Ohio State University." Potatoes are listed as one of those crops, sometimes at the top of the list. Reduced yield can be one of the symptoms of the damage.

    Well, I don't want to write another article here, you can read the ones that are already written.

    Where are we going? Or, rather, Where are we running?
     
  13. Beekeeper

    Beekeeper Active Member

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    In the same vein. How long ,with mulching, can potatoes be safely left in the ground on the coast.
     
  14. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    I don't know when they start sprouting if left in the soil, otherwise they should be ok providing the mulch is thick enough to prevent them from freezing. If soil where you live do not freeze at all, just hilling them up a little bit more with soil should suffice.

    You could also store potatoes inside for several months, in a cool, unheated room, in a cardboard box.
    Here is how I do it. After putting potatoes into a box I cover them with paper, close the box and keep it in my dark, cool laundry room.
     

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  15. Charles Philip

    Charles Philip Active Member

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    Did you take notice of the flowering time?
     

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