Why bother with “seed potatoes”

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The potatoes we sell at our Potato Day are specially grown and inspected to make sure they are fit for us to use for growing our potato crops. They all have a certificate to say that this is so, but why do we go to so much trouble and expense?

Potatoes suffer from quite a wide number of pests, viruses and other diseases, including some that aren’t obvious but affect how well the potatoes grow.

Many of these problems that afflict potatoes can be passed on to next year’s potato crop through infected potato tubers saved from a harvest or bought as eating potatoes. At the very best what you will see is a smaller crop made up of small potatoes, which will get gradually smaller over the years.

However, using seed potatoes from an unreliable source can have much more serious consequences, especially if, like we do, you live and grow your potatoes in areas where potato crops and ‘proper’ seed potatoes are being are being grown and large areas might be affected.

The special way that our seed potatoes are grown and tested helps avoid these problems and is the reason why, as a general rule, we should stick to using certified seed potatoes in our gardens.

Unfortunately, as with most general rules there is an exception – one that says we also need to be careful about exactly where our seed potatoes come from. This is because of two quite serious bacterial problems that affect potatoes – brown rot and ring rot. Both of these are quite common across much of mainland Europe, but, apart from a couple of very isolated cases, are not in Britain or Ireland.

Being able to sell seed potatoes that don’t have these problems is a big plus for Scottish seed potato growers in particular and to avoid introducing them we aim to sell only seed potatoes grown in UK.