Pondering potato planting

Horticulture Hints

With Good Friday almost upon us, some folks will be gearing up to plant their potatoes. It is a common misconception that potatoes should always be planted on Good Friday.

Using Good Friday as a planting date may be problematic, as this date can occur early in March or late April, and soil temperatures may vary greatly. As potatoes will not germinate in cold soils, wait to plant seed pieces when the soil temperature warms to 40 degrees F.

A potato growing challenge contest to help celebrate ISU Extension and Outreach Week, will be sponsored by Hamilton County Extension this year. This Grow the Largest Potato Contest is free and open to the public and will have a youth section (15 years and younger) and an adult section.

Contest registrations and free seed potatoes will be distributed during Extension Week, April 16 – 20, 2018 at the Extension Office, 311 Bank Street in Webster City. Planting instruction sheet and complete contest rules will be included. (One entry per person; entries must be only grown from seed potatoes received from the Extension Office.)

Grow your potato plants; harvest and then exhibit your largest potato at the Hamilton County Fair with judging held on July 25, 2018. Considering the space potatoes plants require, growing potatoes is ordinarily not for those folks with small garden spaces. However, if you like a challenge, you may want to consider planting potatoes this year and “Grow with Extension” and enter the Grow the Largest Potato Contest!

Did you know? Occasionally, a potato plant will produce a tiny tomato-like fruit at the top of a mature plant. These oddities are actually seed pods formed by the potato and are not the result of a potato crossing with a tomato plant. As both plants are members of theSolanaceae plant family, it is no wonder their fruit looks similar. But the potato fruit is not edible and the seed formed should not be planted.

Horticulture Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.