Are your potatoes decaying before you can harvest them? You are not alone—potato blight is a serious problem to many potato farmers. It is caused by Phytophthora Infestans and can lead to massive losses for anyone planting potatoes. I find potato blight hard to control because it spreads so fast I never get a chance to nip it in the bud (pun intended).
There are a few potato types that are resistant to blight by nature. The majority of purchasers are concerned about how the blight-resistant produce will taste in various cuisines and stores. Each blight-resistant variety has its own set of advantages.
Some of the most common types with this attribute include Cara and Setanta, and they happen to be my two favorite varieties.
But the best way to avoid the disappointment of a rotten potato harvest is to choose the potato varieties with blight-resistant qualities. Read on, and I’ll show you the best blight-resistant potato varieties and how you should plant them for maximum resistance. These varieties are resistant to blight, but that is not all—how the plant is handled during planting also forms a crucial base for blight resistance.
I will also add a few tips on identifying potato blight early and measures you can take to keep your tubers safe from blight.
Are There Potato Blight-Resistant Varieties?
Yes, there are potato varieties in the market that offer resistance to potato blight. I put together a simplified list of five potato variations resistant to blight and still provide great taste.
First on the list is my personal favorite, Cara. This potato variety offers the resistant quality but is the best option for a mean mashed potato dish. It is also a great variety to use if you want to make baked potatoes.
The red-skinned main crop potato variety that can survive wet conditions without a scratch is second on the list. Potato blight does not stand a chance against Setanta as it has the highest tolerance. I love to use my Setanta variety to make jackets, roast, and chips dishes. I mainly prefer this variety because it is easy to grow and has excellent taste.
This potato variety is colored yellow and usually has an oval shape. Most of my friends love this variety because of its high-yielding capability. Who doesn’t like a bountiful blight-free harvest? The harvest also stores better than other potato varieties. Better storage outcomes make the variety that much easier to transport for sale. Because Nicola potatoes have a waxy feel, they are great for salads.
This potato variety is a favorite for gardeners and commercial farmers. I prefer using this variety when I want the best blight-free yield organically. Acoustic varieties are a breeze to farm because they require minimum effort and no additional chemicals to control blight.
This blight-resistant potato variety grows well in many types of soils and offers excellent slug resistance. The potato has a reddish hue and usually assumes an oval shape. I love this variety because it grows brilliant foliage that chokes out pesky weeds before they become a problem.
Unpacking The Blight-Resistant Seed Potatoes
How I Grow My Blight-Resistant Potatoes Varieties
Once I have my seed potatoes from the store, the first thing I do is place them in trays. An egg box or a wooden tray works well too. I make sure to position them in the sun to get things rolling. If I’m planting before spring kicks in, then I choose a frost-free area that is well ventilated to place the trays.
I find that if you give your blight-resistant seed potatoes the best environment from the beginning, they grow faster and healthier, reducing the chances of getting potato blight. Pre-sprouting seed potatoes is a crucial part of the planting process for the best results.
How I Plant My Blight-Resistant Potatoes
To prepare my soil, I make sure that I rotate the crops each planting season to reduce the chances of potato blight spores affecting my potatoes. I introduce potato feed earlier on and then dig a 10cm deep trench for the blight-resistant sprouts. Once I place the sprouts in the soil, I cover the base with soil. I keep adding the soil at the bottom as the sprouts get bigger, so the potatoes near the surface do not turn green or, worse getting exposed to potato blight conditions.
Harvesting My Blight-Resistant Potatoes
The type of blight-resistant variety that I’ve planted determines when I get to lift the harvest. Early potatoes varieties are best harvested when the flowers begin to open. At this point, the tuber is about the size of a large egg. Maincrop blight-resistant varieties such as Cara and Setanta should be left in for an extra two weeks after the leaves and stems have waned.
When I have a busy schedule and can’t harvest the potatoes on time, I cut the stems just above the soil level, then come back and gather them as soon as I can. Cutting the branches over the soil also helps reduces the chances of potato blight, attempting your potatoes.
What happens after pulling the Potato out of the ground?
Once I’ve pulled my blight-free potatoes from the soil, I spread them on the surface of the ground for a few hours for the skins to cure. Skin curing is basically letting the potatoes dry off for better storage. Once the skins are adequately cured, I store my potatoes in paper or Hessian Sacks because they are breathable and let moisture out.
If you keep your potatoes in plastic bags, you will create the perfect conditions for potato blight to affect your harvest. After packing up the potatoes, you can ship them or store them in a well-ventilated room for consumption.
How Can You Identify the Blight in Your Potatoes?
When I first started farming, I had a tough time identifying potato blight on my potato crop. By the time I would notice that something is off, my crop would be ravaged by the rot and decay caused by potato blight. I did not know that potato blight spores can survive in the soil and infect my next batch of crops. I soon learned how to identify the infection early on.
The first sign of potato blight infection is dark brown patches that appear on the leaves and spread quickly. The entire leaf will rot in a day or two, and the disease will infect the stems. If enough of the leaves are infected, the plant will lose the ability to make food for the tubers, causing stunted growth. If the infected area comes into contact with running water, the potato blight spores will flow towards the tubers.
Once the tubers are infected, you will notice dark recessed areas on the surface. The rot will rapidly progress inside, leaving behind a brown rot that eventually devours the entire tuber, leaving behind a wet, smelly soft mush. You might save some potato tubers, but their fate is sealed and will probably rot later in storage.
Tips On Preventing and Controlling Potato Blight
Potato blight can ruin an entire harvest which is very disappointing. Apart from planting the suitable blight-resistant potato variety, there are a few more steps you can take to protect your crop. I’ve put together a shortlist of activities and measures that I find incredibly effective when dealing with potato blight.
Get the Best Quality Potato Variety.
For starters, I always get my seed potatoes from a certified distributor that I trust. It is entirely possible to get hoodwinked into buying counterfeit potato varieties that are not blight resistant. If it is your first time purchasing potato seeds, do your research beforehand to know the kind of product you are looking to purchase. If a supplier has a bad reputation of selling crops that do not do well, then take that as a red flag and buy from somewhere else.
Plant the Early Potato Variety
If it is your first time planting potatoes, you should invest in early varieties. This potato variety takes a shorter time in the soil and harvesting before potato blight strikes. Harvesting your crop early is the best way to reduce the chances of infection, considering that as a newbie, you are likely to make a few mistakes.
Cover Your Bases
Increasing the soil at the base of the plant as the crop grows reduces the chances of blight infection. The extra layer of soil slows the spreading of the spores from reaching the tuber beneath the soil. Sometimes I like to mulch the crops using a straw to give the crops better protection. For the best effect, make the mulch as thick as reasonably possible.
When and How to Water the Crop
When watering my plants, I try not to splash water on the leaves, aiming only at the base of the plant. Speaking of watering, always remember to water your tomato plants more often in warmer weather. I try and water my plants early in the morning, so I have a great shot at not wetting the foliage, which is a direct catalyst for spreading potato blight.
What Do You Do If You Spot Potato Blight?
If you identify signs of infection on your crop, the best cause of action is to cut off the affected part and dispose of it, preferably by burning it so it does not infect other plants. It would be best if you always kept a close eye on your crop so you can spot potato blight as soon as it appears on the leaves.
Avoid Washing Potatoes Meant to Be Stored.
A word of caution, potatoes that are to go into storage should never be washed. If you wash the crop, you increase the chances of rapidly spreading potato blight infection in healthy tubers. Always keep an eye on stored potatoes and throw out potatoes that show signs of infection.
Conclusion on what potato varieties are blight resistant
Potato blight can infect an entire crop in a matter of days. Potato blight spores are incredibly easy to transfer, but you do not need to worry about this if you have planted the right potato variety. Under the right conditions, potato blight-resistant varieties are guaranteed to give you a perfectly healthy potato harvest this harvesting season.
Do not forget to follow the proper farming procedures when attending to your crop to avoid creating conducive conditions for potato blight. If you follow these guidelines, I am confident that you will have the harvest you desire.
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