News Article for January 9, 2012:
So far we have had a drier and warmer winter than normal just as predicted. While we certainly need the moisture to grow crops the warmer temperatures have been a benefit to those growing winter crops.
I would take advantage of the warmer temperatures and go ahead and plant my Irish potatoes soon. In south Louisiana we recommend that Irish potatoes be planted from mid-January through February. The earlier you can get them planted the better potential you have for higher yields.
Some years the soil temperatures are so low that you may have to wait to get good germination but that should not be a problem now. The optimum soil temperature for good germination should be 45-50˚F.
Irish potatoes are a heavy user of fertilizer so apply 8-10 pounds of 8-8-8 or the equivalent fertilizer per 100 feet row prior to planting.
One of the problems that people have when planting potatoes is poor stands cause by seed rotting. To counteract that problem I suggest that you cut your seed potatoes several days before planting them to allow the cut surfaces to heal over. It is usually the fresh cut surface where the bacterial rot will attach itself and you can tell by the rotten potato smell if you have a bacterial rot. Cut the seed potatoes into pieces that are about the size of a hen egg and make sure that each piece has at least one eye as this is where the potato plant originates.
Irish potatoes are planted deeper than most other seed to protect them from the winter cold. Plant seed potatoes at a depth of 4-5 inches and space them out about every 12 inches within the row. Using this planting method will require about 10-12 pounds of seed potatoes to plant a 100 foot row.
Should we get some cold weather, do not fear, potatoes can take a frost. If the plants were to be nipped back by a freeze there will usually be plenty of live tissue underground to regenerate new growth.
Another problem that we sometimes have is availability of recommended or desired varieties. There are both red and white potato varieties that grow well in Louisiana.
Red Lasoda is the standard and most commonly grown red potato here but you can also grow Red Norland and La Rouge. Red Lasoda takes about100 to 120 days to mature and Red Norland will be ready to harvest in 90-95 days.
Recommended white skin varieties would include Atlantic, LaChipper and Kennebec. Both Atlantic and LaChipper are round, smooth skinned potatoes that are used for chipper and fresh markets. Kennebec is oblong and smooth used primarily for the fresh market.
A good yield for potatoes would be 15 to 20 pounds of harvested potatoes for each pound of seed potatoes planted.
Potatoes will be ready to harvest when the potato plants start to wither and the skin will not rub off the potato, which is called feathering.
For more information on these or related topics call Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.
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