The process of commercial potato farming is the same even if you are growing potatoes in colder regions.
You only need to consider the temperature and soil requirement in order to succeed.
Benefits Of Potato Farming
- Potato farming is a good form of employment if done at the right scale.
- It is great food for many homes around the world. Many families fry, boil, or roast potatoes for consumption.
- Potatoes can serve as a major source of foreign exchange when exported to other countries.
- There are amazing benefits of potatoes for skin, hair, and Health. Potato juice is used to treat some ailment and remove Warts
- Potatoes are good for shining your silverwares e.g. cutlery. You can also use potatoes to clean windows and remove stains.
- It helps relieve arthritis, infections, and boils.
- Potato is good for absorbing excess salt from a cooking pot.
- Art students use potato for creating uniform patterns for stamp designs.
How to Grow Irish Potatoes in Nigeria
Below are the steps you should take for a successful potato farming business;
- Select a suitable land for growing Irish potato in Nigeria
- Prepare the land for cultivating potato
- Select the best potato variety to cultivate.
- Know when to plant potato and how to plant potato
- Apply weed control measure in potato farming
- Chose the right potato fertilizer and the best method of fertilizer application
- Harvest mature potato from your farm
- Process and store potato for use.
Step 1: Select a Suitable Land for Growing Potatoes in Nigeria
Potatoes require adequate access to sunlight, therefore, you can grow it in an open area.
You can grow potatoes in almost any type of soil, except saline and alkaline soils.
Naturally, loamy and sandy loam soils that are rich in organic matter, are the most suitable soils for growing potato.
This is because the soils are loose and they offer the least resistance to enlargement of the tubers.
Also, make sure the soil has good drainage and proper aeration.
You should plant your potato in slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 5.2 – 6.4.
Step 2: How to Prepare Land for Planting Potatoes
Growing potatoes involves extensive ground preparation.
This stage of the potato planting process involves clearing the farm and ploughing the soil.
You need to harrow the soil with a hoe or plough until it is completely free of weed roots.
Most times, you need to plough at least three times, with a frequent harrowing and rolling before the soil reaches a suitable condition: soft, with adequate drainage and aeration.
You can incorporate fertilizer into the soil at this stage and also prepare seedbeds for the potatoes.
Step 3: Types of Potatoes and Selecting the Best Potato Variety
Although the potato cultivated worldwide belongs to just one botanical species, Solanum tuberosum , the tubers come in thousands of varieties.
The varieties have great differences in size, shape, colour, texture, cooking characteristics and taste.
You need to decide on the potato variety you want to plant.
There are different types to choose from, however, you have to consider some of these factors;
Factors to consider when choosing potato variety for cultivation
- You must consider the disease resistance of the variety
- The time it takes to reach maturity
- You must also consider the level of productivity or yield of the potato
- Check what is the overall quality of the potato it produces.
Selecting the Best Potato Variety for Cultivation
Like you already know, there are different varieties of seed potato available in Nigeria.
Some are local and while others come from other countries.
Some of the local varieties include;
Some varieties that come in through importation which are high yielding and highly resistant to diseases include;
Step 4: When to Cultivate and How to plant potato
While Sweet Potatoes is grown by planting stems from matured plants, Irish potatoes require seed propagation.
Potatoes may be planted as soon as you can till the land, but keep soil temperatures in mind.
Potato plants will not begin to grow until the soil temperature has reached 45 degrees F.
The soil should be moist, but free from waterlogging to avoid rotting the seed potato.
Method of planting Irish Potatoes
After you are done preparing the land for growing the potatoes, do the following;
Dig a trench that is 4 to 6 inches deep. Add fertilizer to the trench, according to the recommendation from the soil test result, prior to planting the Irish seed potatoes.
Place the seed potatoes in the trench, spacing them at 10 to 18 inches apart. Cover the potatoes with 2 inches of soil and space multiple trenches 2 to 3 feet apart.
Water the potatoes at the time of planting. Continue to water about every three days to keep the soil moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out, neither should it be waterlogged.
Cover the potatoes with another 2 inches of soil once sprouts emerge from the ground. As the plants grow, continue mounding soil or mulch over the tops of the potato plant roots to keep the growing tubers covered. When you expose potato tubers to sunlight, they turn green and can be toxic, so they should not be eaten.
Step 5: How to Control Weeds on the Potato Farm
Potatoes are broadleaf crops and very sensitive to chemicals.
So, the application of Weedicide should be done very carefully.
It can be done in the following manner – According to Agropedia.
- Pre-plant soil incorporation: Use EPTC @ 1-2 kg ha-1 or Fluchloralin @ 1.0 kg ha-1. EPTC is known to increase the proportion of large sized tubers in the harvest, quite apart from its weed control effect.
- Pre-emergence: Use of Alachlor @ 1.0 kg ha-1or Pendimethalin @ 1.8 kg ha-1 or Metribuzin @ 1.0 kg ha-1 or Methabenzthiazuron 1.0-1.5 kg ha-1 or Oxifluorfen @ 0.1-0.2 kg ha-1 or Oxidiazon @ 0.75 kg ha-1.
- Early postemergence: Use of Paraquat and Diquat @ 0.36-1.0 kg ha-1 or Metribuzin @ 0.35-1.0 kg ha-1. Apply when no more than 5-10% potato plants have just emerged from the soil. It is the most commonly in use for the treatment of potato weeds in India.
You can apply these herbicides to combat against all type of weeds in potato farming.
Get proper training for mixing these chemicals with water from an expert to get better results from using the solution.
The spraying swath should be proper.
When you incorporate the Weedicide in the soil, the moisture content of the soil should be proper for the best results.
Step 6: How to Apply Fertilizer in Potato Farming Business
Growing potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) so they become big requires proper preparation of the soil at planting time.
While preparing the soil, adding lots of potassium and nitrogen it helps them get off to a strong start.
Later in the season, the potato plants require an additional shot of fertilizer to form large tubers.
Generally, the type and quantity of fertilizer to use depend on the results of soil tests.
You can increase the fertility of the soil by using cover crops, organic fertilizers, and non-organic fertilizers.
Non-organic, fertilizers contain chemicals that may burn seed potatoes. So, the best time to apply them is before planting.
Use a combination of broadcasting and side-dressing methods of fertilizer application to apply fertilizers to your potato.
This is typically more effective than using only one of those fertilization methods.
Step 7: How to Harvest the mature Potato
Harvesting your potatoes depends majorly on the weather conditions, the growth season, and the tuber size you desire.
However, the maturity period for growing potato is usually 2 to 3 months after planting.
Before you begin harvesting, wait until the tops of the vines die down and begin to wither.
Potatoes are tubers and you want your plant to store as much of that flavorful starch as possible.
Once the foliage turns brown, you should start preparing for harvest.
Usually, the harvest is done on a sunny day when the soil is slightly dry but not compact.
In the process of harvesting these potatoes, ensure there is minimal damage to the tubers before storage.
This will prevent the tubers from rotting quickly when in storage.
Step 8: How to Process and Store Potato after Harvest – FAO
Temperature and tuber damage are the two most important factors in successful potato storage. Very careful handling is the key to preventing damage.
Harvesting is best done when the soil is slightly moist to prevent abrasion and the tubers lifted carefully to avoid damage.
Ideally, they should be left to dry for a few hours in the field, collected in field containers and placed in a cool, shady place.
Potatoes for food (ware potatoes) must not stay under sunlight for more than a few hours otherwise they turn green, develop an unpleasant taste and may become toxic.
It is important to make the distinction between ware potato storage and seed potato storage.
The objective of ware potato storage main is to obtain the maximum quantity of tubers, of acceptable quality to the consumers, at a rate to meet consumer demand.
This requires the lowest possible quantitative and qualitative losses, with no or little sprouting, kept in the dark to prevent greening and firm tubers, all at an economical cost.
In seed potatoes storage the objective is to have optimum development of sprouts prior to planting.
In both cases, the farmer requires the maximum return from his investment in time, materials, equipment and buildings.
Potato Processing – Industrial Uses of Potatoes
- Potatoes are processed in breweries to produce alcoholic beverages such as vodka
- The flour from sweet potatoes is great for making biscuits, baking bread and cookies and many other uses in the food industry.
- **Livestock like goats and pigs eat potatoes You can feed your livestock with potatoes which are either too small or damaged beyond human consumption. The potatoes are first steamed and fed to the livestock, or fed to them raw.
- Food industries use the starch from potatoes as a thickener and binder for soups and sauces. Textile companies use potato starch as an adhesive, while paper companies use it for manufacturing papers and boards.
- Researchers commonly use potato tubers as specimens in plant research because of some special characteristics that the plant possesses.