Greenhouse Potato Production
Potato is an annual plant in the nightshade family, grown for its starchy edible tubers and it is the most important food crop of the world. It is referred to as a Poor man friend. It is used for many industrial purposes for production. Potato is grown almost in all states. In India, major Potato growing states are Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, and Madhya Pradesh. Potato is the most important food crop of the world and it is a temperate crop grown under subtropical conditions in India. In this article we also discuss below topics about Potato production;
- Can you grow Potatoes in a greenhouse in winter
- Start Potatoes in greenhouse
- How to grow Potatoes in Potato bags
- Can I plant Potatoes in a greenhouse
- How to grow Potatoes in a greenhouse or greenhouse potato production method
- Greenhouse Potato production using trenches
- Greenhouse Potato production using grow bags
A Step by Step Guide to Greenhouse Potato Production
The Potato is a major world vegetable crop, next in production only to maize, rice, and wheat. Short duration and wide flexibility in planting and harvesting time are Potato’s other valuable traits that help to adjust this crop in several intensive-cropping systems without putting much pressure on scarce land and water resources. Growing Potatoes in the greenhouse will provide your favorite varieties all year long, and you don’t need much space to do it. Grow Potatoes in a greenhouse easily and harvest preferred varieties all year round. Also, they will do well on your porch, in grow bags, pots, large containers, and raised beds. Find suitable growing conditions for Potatoes inside the greenhouse isn’t impossible, though it is a time-consuming procedure.
The main purpose of the greenhouse system is to provide favorable growing conditions and to protect crops from unfavorable weather and various pests. Growing your vegetables can be rewarding and there are a lot of options for products that can be effectively grown in a greenhouse structure. Potatoes are ideally suited to the greenhouse system, as being inside a greenhouse can help prevent Potatoes from being affected by adverse weather conditions or frost.
Different Types of Potatoes for greenhouse
You can grow almost all types of Potatoes in your greenhouse. Let’s discuss below are the Potato varieties suitable for the greenhouse are;
Russets – Russets are also called old Potatoes. The russets varieties include russet Burbank, russet Arcadia, russet Norkotahs, and russet Butte.
Yellow Potatoes – The yellow Potatoes varieties like Yukon gold, German Butterball, Yellow Finn, Carola, Nicola, and Alby’s Gold come in the yellow category.
Round red Potatoes – Round red Potatoes have round with reddish-brown skin with dense white flesh. These are sweeter than round white Potatoes.
Fingerlings – These are thumb-size Potatoes that can grow up to about 3 inches. They include varieties like purple Peruvian fingerlings, long white fingerlings, Russian banana fingerlings, and Ruby crescent fingerlings. These Potatoes have thin skin and they can be cooked unpeeled.
Round white Potatoes – There are medium-sized, round Potatoes with freckled brown color skin.
Purple Potatoes – Purple Potatoes are also called blue Potatoes. These Potatoes have a delicate flavor.
Petite Potatoes – These Potatoes are also known as baby Potatoes. They can be small in size. New Potatoes are crisp and have a waxy inner texture.
Best Varieties for Greenhouse Potato Production
There are so many Potato varieties you can grow in a greenhouse. These varieties are divided into two main categories;
1: Early Potato Varieties – Early Potato varieties are an excellent choice to grow in bags in the greenhouse. They grow quickly and produce fruits at once. You can harvest them in 50 to 60 days after the plantation. Here are early Potato varieties;
- Dark Red Norland
- Irish Cobbler
- Red Gold
- Yukon Gold
2: Fingerling Potato Varieties – These varieties are also great to grow in bags in the greenhouse. The variety is small yet beautiful with a different color of skin. These varieties are not easily available in the market, so you can grow your own in the greenhouse. Here are a few varieties of fingerling Potatoes;
- French Fingerling
- Rose Finn Apple
When to Plant Potatoes in Greenhouse
Usually, you should plant chitted Potatoes between March and May – earlies can be planted earlier in a greenhouse as early as late February.
‘Second earlies’ can be planted throughout March, while ‘main crop’ Potatoes are planted in April and left to grow larger than small early Potatoes. These main Potatoes will be ready to be harvested towards the end of August through to October.
One of the best methods of growing Potatoes, and one that works effectively in a greenhouse, is to use a large container, barrel, or bag. On average, if you want to plant 3 seed Potatoes, then you’ll need a container that measures 24 inches high and about 18 inches in diameter. To plant five seed Potatoes, your container must be 30 inches high and 24 inches in diameter.
Requirements for Greenhouse Potato Production
All greenhouse facilities must be approved by an appropriate certification authority. Some of the greenhouse facilities developed in India is given below;
- Water sources used in greenhouse operations should also be free of Potato pathogens and pests.
- Suitable precautions must be taken in greenhouse practices, potting, planting, irrigating, and other greenhouse practices to guard against the spread of diseases or pests within the facilities.
- All details of the material propagated should be maintained for inspection by the certification authority.
Planting Preparation in Greenhouse Potato Production
- Potato plants thrive in loose, well-drained soil so the beds you make should have potting compost or organic feed of very good quality.
- Cover and mix the soil in rotted or organic fertilizer at the base before planting Potatoes.
- Flexible bags make it comfortable for Potatoes to stretch freely without limitations.
- Chitting is a simple method. Help the Potatoes to sprout first before you set them in your greenhouse system.
- This plant is sensitive to frost. So it is very important to use a frost cover, or heat the greenhouse to the appropriate temperature especially if there are indications that the weather may fall below freezing temperatures.
General Maintenance and Tips for Greenhouse Potato Production
There are certain things that you need to be careful about when growing Potatoes in a greenhouse.
- If the weather is going to fall below freezing temperatures, there are mainly two things you can do. Either use a frost cover over the greenhouse or heat the space to a suitable temperature for the Potato plants.
- The greenhouse must be regularly checked for any broken or cracked glass especially after any high winds and the panes replaced as necessary. The frame too needs to be routinely inspected to make sure it is in good order.
- Sanitation and exclusion are key to prevent the introduction of pest inoculum in greenhouse Potato production.
- Be careful not to overwater your Potato plants. However, regular watering is required once the Potato plants start growing.
- Potable groundwater must be used to irrigate greenhouse-grown Potatoes to reduce the risk caused by bacterial and fungal pathogens.
- By using virus-free tissue culture plantlets and also timely management of aphids and thrips will reduce the chance of virus infestations.
- Greenhouses should be maintained between 22-28°C, which promotes Potato plant development while limiting diseases caused by Pythium and Spongospora.
- After a couple of weeks since planting, start fertilizing lightly with a high-phosphorous fertilizing mix and fertilize every week.
- Pests and diseases aren’t much of a concern when growing Potatoes in a greenhouse. But you do want to watch out for beetles. If you notice any tiny eggs on the plant leaves, pinch them out and burn them. Act fast and then use organic pesticides to get rid of them before they ruin the plant and spread to neighboring ones.
Environment Management for Greenhouse Potato Production
Generally, greenhouse conditions can suppress or favor disease development or can cause physiological symptoms in Potato plants. Greenhouses must be maintained between 22-28°C, a range that suppresses disease caused by Pythium and Spongospora, but that is not too hot for Potato plant development. High temperatures and high humidity can cause leaf edema or aerial sprouts on Potato crops.
Potato yields in greenhouses are sensitive to fertilization levels. For example, nitrogen levels have a dramatic impact on tuber yields in a greenhouse system. And, too much nitrogen will result in excessive foliage production and reduced tuber yields. The ideal nitrogen level differs among varieties with potting-mix based systems or hydroponic systems.
How to Plant Potatoes in Greenhouse
- There are a wide variety of different types of Potatoes obtainable, each cropping at slightly different times. When you’ve worked out which type you’d like to grow in a greenhouse, the quickest and easiest approach for beginners is to purchase seed potatoes from a garden center.
- Don’t plant the seed Potatoes straight away in the greenhouse through first, it’s best to chit the Potatoes. Chitting is an easy procedure, whereby you encourage the Potatoes to start sprouting before you plant them in your greenhouse. Chitting can be started from late January or February, to plant about 6 weeks later, when the shoots are about 0.5 inches to 1 inch long.
- Plant chitted Potatoes from mid-April. Ensure the chosen container has holes for drainage at the bottom, with a layer of gravel or broken pots, then add your compost. Place seed potatoes into the pot, at least five inches apart, and add more compost on top.
- Then, position the pots of Potatoes so that they’re in an area of the greenhouse that will get a good amount of sun. Water the plants regularly, but take care not to overwater them.
- When the first shoots begin to appear, you want to cover them up with more soil. Continue to do this as more shoots appear Potato plants should end up having a small mound of soil around them and with the shoots underneath the soil, rather than exposed to daylight.
- Depending on which type of Potato you’ve planted, they must be ready to harvest from June through to September.
Greenhouse Potato Production in Bags
- Growing Potatoes in bags is easy and follow some simple tips. It easy to grow the Potatoes freely by using flexible bags without the walls of a pot distorting their shape. And, you can start any time from February onwards. It is important that the greenhouse is frost-free and ideally has a daytime temperature level of over 10°C. Then, place on gravel trays so as not to block the drainage holes in the bottom of the bag.
- Once the weather warms up and then you can move the bags outside in the day or even all the time.
- As for the planting method, simply put 3 inches of soil mixed with compost into each bag and then bury the tubers about an inch down in it. Plant 1 tuber in a 1-gallon bag and 2 or 3 in a 5-gallon one. As soon as green shoots have reached 3 or 4 inches high, add more soil and compost, leaving an inch.
- Continue this procedure as the sprouts grow until the surface of the planting medium is about an inch below the top of the bag. Also, be sure to feed plants with a high-phosphorus fertilizer, such as 5-20-0, which root crops prefer.
- After the plants come into flower, you can early-harvest some “new” Potatoes by carefully removing a few from around the edges of a Potato plant. Finally, the plant tops will die back, and the entire crop can be harvested.
Greenhouse Potato Production in Containers
It is best to grow Potatoes in containers in greenhouses. Growing Potatoes in containers gives you the flexibility to move them around as well as allowing the ground to recover from the summer’s growth. In a container that’s 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide, you can plant 3 seed Potatoes. A 1-gallon grow bag has room for a single tuber, while you can plant 2 to 3 tubers in a 5-gallon bag. In a raised bed, plant Potato tubers at least 12 inches apart. Make sure the buds are facing upwards and cover them with 3 inches of soil.
Set Your Container In a Greenhouse – Set the containers in a warm part of the greenhouse and water them. Make sure there’s no frost in the greenhouse since it can kill plants almost instantly.
Hilling Potatoes – Hilling Potatoes helps increase the yield and keeps the Potatoes covered, and protected from sunlight. Green Potatoes are poisonous and need to be avoided.
Start hilling, once the plant grows to 8 inches tall. Cover it with soil and leaving the top inch open for sunlight. Repeat each time the plant grows about 4 inches above the soil surface. Stop hilling once the soil reaches about an inch below the top of the bag.
Greenhouse Potato Production in Trenches
- Initially, dig a trench inside the greenhouse by using a round-pointed shovel about 8 inches deep and 6 inches wide. Then, narrowing towards the bottom to about 3 inches wide.
- After digging a trench, give it a row shape. Because Potatoes are best grown in rows. The Spacing between the rows should be 2 to 3 feet apart. Then, top-dress the soil with organic compost or well-rotted manure.
- After adding in manure, now we want to place a Potato seed piece inside the trench with its cut side down. With 12 to 14 inches distance between every Potato seed piece and then cover it with 3 to 4 inches of soil.
- Take a clean and sharp paring knife and cut large Potatoes into pieces that should weigh about 2 ounces about the size of a golf ball. Don’t miss out on eyes there must be at least 2 eyes or buds on each piece before you plant them. These are experimentally proven to be the best starters when growing Potatoes inside the greenhouse.
- Potato sprouts will emerge after 12 to 16 days of planting, as soon as you see this appearing, use a hoe, and fill in the trench with an additional 3 to 4 inches of soil. Leaving a few inches of sprouts exposed. We want to repeat this for several weeks, leaving the soil mounded up 4 to 5 inches above ground level. This step is called hilling.
- Add organic mulch between the rows so that the plant has enough moisture, is resistant to weeds, and just after the Potato plant has emerged.
Planting Potatoes in Greenhouse Raised Beds
- Normally, most greenhouse grower’s plant Potatoes in their greenhouse raised beds.
- The greenhouse, for growing Potatoes in the raised bed, should be at least 1 foot high and should span an area of at least 3 by 3 feet. Make sure that greenhouse raised bed get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.
- Add around 5 inches of compost mix and then plant Potatoes seeds about 3 inches deep and space them 12 inches apart.
- When the sprouts emerge and are 4 to 5 inches fill the raised bed with more compost mix so that 2.5 inches of the sprouts are above the ground.
- Keep repeating this procedure until you reach the top of the raised bed and leave the sprouts to grow.
- If you have properly added manure-based compost then you have covered all of the nutrients like phosphorus, and potassium, etc and you just need to give nitrogen to greenhouse Potatoes. Then, you can add a small amount of partially decomposed compost that has a high nitrogen concentration.
Pests and Diseases Management in Greenhouse Potato Production
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- There are only a few Potato pathogens that are common in greenhouse-grown Potatoes. Sanitation and exclusion can aid in the management of these pathogens. The common source of these pathogens is the outside environment surrounding the greenhouse or un-sanitized surfaces inside the greenhouse. Pathogen management tends to be easier in Potato crops grown between January and May when pest populations outside are low.
- Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is sometimes found in Potatoes in greenhouses. Good insect management will reduce the chance that these viruses will be present in a greenhouse Potato.
- Greenhouse growers can reduce the chance of virus spread in greenhouses by washing their hands and by sanitizing pots, benches, and floors between crops.
- Fungal pathogens – Fungal pathogens sometimes attack Potato foliage in a greenhouse system. The common foliar fungal disease is powdery mildew. This disease can be managed by spraying the leaves with paraffinic oil.
- Insect Management – Two insect pest groups are common in greenhouses like aphids and thrips. Both crop insects can cause damage through feeding and can spread viruses. Insecticides with active ingredients can be used to protect greenhouse-grown Potatoes against aphids and thrips.
- Potato scab is caused by high pH levels in the soil. Add some pine straw on top. This will be a natural antibacterial agent.
When and How to Harvest Potatoes in the Greenhouse
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Generally, Potatoes take between 80 to 100 days to mature. There are mainly two categories of Potatoes that need to be harvested. Greenhouse planters the categories name them as ‘new Potatoes’ and the ‘mature Potatoes’. Because of the small size, the new Potatoes are those that are harvested early. They are ready for harvest about 2 to 3 weeks after the Potato plant stops flowering. Though, for mature Potatoes, you need to wait for about 2 to 3 weeks. After the plant foliage has died back. This needs a lot of patience. Starting digging Potatoes when the first hard frost is expected and it can tolerate light frost. Start digging Potatoes not to puncture the tubers. The greenhouse soil should not be compact so that it will be very easy to dig Potatoes.
Do not let Potatoes turn green color by placing them for longer periods under the sun just after you have dug up from your greenhouse. Due to the presence of solanine in green Potatoes, they taste bitter and if eaten can cause some problems. If there is notable greening in potatoes it is advisable to throw them out.