Potato is the second most important food crop after maize in Kenya. Maize seed system is well organized since certified seeds are available at any agro supply outlet.
Potato lacks such a system. Availability of certified potato seed nationally is at 2 %. There are two seed systems undertaken:-
Formal Potato Seed System
Breeder seed and pre-basic seeds are available at seed multiplication institutions such as KARLO Tigoni, Kisima Farm and ADC Molo.
Seed potato production commences with sourcing for basic seeds, putting that seed in a diffused light store to allow for sprouting. It is important to ensure that as many eyes as possible develop strong and firm sprouts. This is achieved by having a three tuber layer spread out in the diffused light store or using chiting boxes.
Seed Potato Agronomy
Seed potato is grown on virgin land or fields where crops from the solanecea family have been grown. It is highly recommended that soils on which seeds are grown are tested so as to get recommendations for fertilizer applications and aids in avoiding diseased fields. In the recent past, incidences of Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) have been reported and hence testing of the same is necessary to avoid spreading. Irrigation water should also be tested for quality.
The tubers are planted at the spacing of 75cm between rows and 30cm between tubers at a depth of 15cm if all production operations are intended to be manual. In case operations are mechanized then the planter places the seeds appropriately after spreading the fertilizer and covers.
It is recommended that after flowering tubers are inspected regularly s that after 80% of the tubers reaches seed size dehaulming is carried out. Two weeks after dehaulming the seeds are harvested.
Sorting and grading follows where bruised tubers are removed and the rest are graded according to sizes.
Size 1 25 – 35mm diameter
Size 2 35 – 55mm diameter
Article by: Wanjiku Mugai; Agronomist, South Kinangop
Read the full article in Hortfresh Journal January-February 2017 edition
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