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How to grow IRISH POTATOES in Uganda

Potato is a herbaceous starchy, tuberous crop and it’s locally known as the Irish potato cause of its originality.

Globally the Irish potatoes are the fourth largest food crop following rice, wheat and maize.

Available varieties in Uganda include: Victoria, Kisoro, Kabaale, Rutuku and NAKPoT (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Soils requirements for Potatoes

Potatoes grow best in deep friable fertile soils that have good water retention capacity as compact soils reduce root and tuber development and may cause tuber deformation.

Irish potatoes require adequate soil moisture, though excess soil moisture results into poor growth and encourages diseases.

How best to propagate Irish Potatoes in Africa

Potato is propagated from seed tubers.

Seed tubers must be free of the diseases especially bacterial wilt and viruses; and must have broken its dormancy.

The period taken for the Irish potato to break dormancy is dependent on the variety.

Tubers which have been stored for so long should not be planted because they have very old sprouts which are weak and result in low vigor plants.

The best size of tubers for planting would be 40-80gm.

Seed tubers should be planted intact without cutting them as this is discouraged as it could lead to spread of bacterial wilt disease.

A damage on a Seed tuber may also cause rotting of the tubers in the field especially from root rot bacteria.

Contact the Uganda agribusiness guide to buy Irish potatoes for food and Seed tubers for planting.

How to plant Irish potaoes in Uganda

Potato should be planted early in the season at the onset of rains for farmers who follow rain cycles.

The crop may be planted on a flat field and afterwards earthen and transferred to ridge garden or may be planted on ridges directly, however the best way of planting would be using 10cm deep furrow.

The furrows are then ridged up immediately after placement of seed tubers and one should ensure that the ridges are about 25cm high. The recommended spacing of the crop is (60x30) cm.

Fertilizer recommendation; the optimal fertilizer rates for potato production is 100kg/hectare of sodium, 50kg/ha of phosphorus and 50kg/ha potassium.
Fertilizers are placed in the furrows.

How to weed Irish potatoes

Irish potato plants should be weeded to reduce competition with weeds but also to get rid of weeds that act as alternate hosts of insect pests like aphids.

About two weddings’ are done, the first when the crop is about 10cm high and the second when the crop is about 20-25cm high.

Contact the Uganda agribusiness guide to buy Irish potatoes for food and Seed tubers for planting.

How to Harvest and store Irish potatoes

In Uganda, potato is harvested using a hoe.

Irish Potato should be harvested when it’s mature.

Two to three weeks before harvesting, the crop should be ‘dehaulmed’ (i.e. the stems of the crop removed).
This allows the skin of the tubers to harden to minimize bruising during harvesting and subsequent handling.
Bruised potato tubers are prone to rotting.

After harvesting, Irish potato tubers should be put in cool place for at least a week to allow them to cure i.e. the skin to develop suberin or a hard layer which further protects them from physical damage and attack by insects and diseases.

Curing also heals wounds. To cure potato you should keep the harvested tubers in a well aerated, high humidity and relatively warm temperature of about (50_60) °C.

Potatoes are stored in facilities carefully designed to keep the potatoes alive and slow the natural process of decomposition.
A suitable area should be dark and well aerated. Light in storage should be avoided because it induces greening which also indicates accumulation of a sugar compound that is poisonous (glycoalkaloids).
Storage facilities should be designed to keep temperature low below 25°C

Contact the Uganda agribusiness guide to buy Irish potatoes for food and Seed tubers for planting.

Quick tips for growing Irish potatoes

  • Open up field meant for planting in to furrows.

  • Place the potato tuber into the furrow and thinly cover with soil.

  • Earth up the soils to form ridges as recommended above.

  • Dress NPK in the rows to supplement on the soil mineral elements.

  • Harvest the potatoes in piece meal to allow other small potatoes to grow bigger.

Contact the Uganda agribusiness guide to buy Irish potatoes for food and Seed tubers for planting.

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