Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Seed Potatoes

Purple Viking potato.  Image from HERE
I ordered my seed potatoes yesterday.

Mrs ERJ asked me why I was buying seed potatoes when we had potatoes in the cellar.

Bright yellow potatoes are the Missaukee potatoes.  This picture was from the 2014 garden year.
I do plan to plant some of those Missaukee potatoes for seed.  But the last time I grew potatoes in the "Pasture" plot I had a lot of scab on the Missaukee.

Review of the scientific literature was discouraging.  Sometimes sulfur helps.  Sometimes it does not.  Some years scab is bad.  Some years it is not.  Sometimes growing potatoes year-after-year causes the disease pressure to build up.  Some times year-after-year growing of potatoes causes the scab disease organism (Streptomyces scabies) to become hypovirulent.  Sometimes soil with low pH helps.  Sometimes it does not.....  That is the thing about biological "enemies", they are not static.

The comment about the hypovirulence does make me want to soak the seed potatoes in killer yeast.  Killer yeast are strains of brewing and vinter's yeast that are infected with RNA virus that is lethal to most other strains of yeast.   

Streptomyces scabies is a strange bacteria.  It has some characteristics usually associated with fungi.  I will try Lalvin EC-1118 as EC-1118 is a killer yeast that is tolerant of low temperatures. Maybe I can give my resident population of S. scabies a severe head cold.

Almost all folks agree that choosing a variety with known field-resistance to scab is the first line of defense.

From the Fedco website, potatoes they consider to be highly scab resistant, high yielding and have excellent storage properties.
I decided to go with Purple Viking as my second potato cultivar this year.

Mrs ERJ was pretty OK with purple potatoes.  She subscribes to the belief that colorful food tends to be better for you than foods that are white, brown or gray.


  1. Yeah, but the mashed potatoes look funny... :-) Good luck with the Lalvin!

  2. Curious - EC-1118 is my go-to for doing hard cider. Tried a bunch of them and this is what I kept coming back to. Have to try it on my spuds this year...