I was given a couple seed potatoes. I recently saw the ‘March: Warning About Growing Potatoes at Home’ posted in 2022 on TMG and was wondering if blight is still an issue this growing season. Can you please clarify?
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your question regarding growing “seed potatoes.”
Potatoes are an annual crop, meaning they are planted each year in the spring and harvested in the fall. Potatoes are one of the few crops that are not started from seedlings every year. Instead, what is planted every year are “seed potatoes“. These are the eyes of the potato tuber that have started to sprout. They are cut into the desired sizes and then planted into the ground. These “seed potatoes” are clones of the original parent plant.
The problem with recycling your or your neighbours ‘seed potatoes’ are that they could be infected with late blight inoculum. Late blight requires living tissues to survive to the following season, as a result the pathogen survives between plantings on infected “seed potatoes” which then can be spread by wind to infect not only your crop but anyone else’s that is growing potatoes up to 200 km away. Being urban gardeners, we cannot access the same products that are available to commercial growers. For this reason it is suggested that urban gardeners always purchase certified disease-free ‘seed potato’ which is readily available at your local garden center.