A step by step guide for potato cultivation in Tamil Nadu
Potato is the main important food crop in the world. Potato is a temperate crop developed under subtropical conditions in India. The potato is a vegetable crop which has always been the ‘poor man’s friend’. The potato crop is being cultivated in the country for the last more than 300 years. For vegetable purposes, it has become one of the main popular crops in this country. Potatoes are an economical food; they supply a source of low-cost energy to the human diet. Potato popularly called as ‘The king of vegetables’.
Potatoes are used for several industrial purposes that are for the production of starch and alcohol. Potato starch or farina is used in laundries and for sizing yarn in textile mills. Potatoes are used for the production of dextrin and glucose.
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The Potato is grown in the Tamil Nadu state of India in high hills and hot tropical plains. In the hills, potato is damaged severely by the potato cyst nematodes while in the plains the heat is the major limiting factor of yield. The potato crop is a wholesome food which is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
Different varieties of potatoes in Tamil Nadu:
Different varieties of potatoes in Tamil Nadu is Kufri Jyoti, Kufri Muthu, Kufri Swarna, Kufri Thangam, Kufri Malar, Kufri Soga and Kufri Giriraj is commonly cultivated.
Some information about Potato cultivation in Tamil Nadu:
- Tamil Nadu Agricultural University has advised potato farmers to go in for sowing in February-March as prices of good quality potato would be Rs 25 to 27 per kg in May-June.
- And the area and production of potato were 4,910 hectares and 1,04,890 tonnes respectively in Tamil Nadu during 2011-12 according to the statistics given by the National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF). So far, India has exported about 74,635 tonnes of potato in the year 2012-2013 which is 26 percent less than that of 2011-12.
- The area and production of potato in Tamil Nadu were 5,350 hectares and 1.16 lakh tonnes in the year 2013-14, an increase of 35 percent and 34 percent, respectively, as compared to last year, it said.
- Potato is an important vegetable crop of which plays a prominent role in the agricultural economy of Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.
- The Potato has grown areas in Tamil Nadu only in the hilly regions of Dindigul, Nilgiris, and Krishnagiri and Erode districts. In Neerbogam season it is sown in February month and harvested from May to June.
- There are two major varieties grown in Nilgiri district Kufri Jyoti and Kufri Giriraj. Nilgiri potato is traded to Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Salem, Kerala and Vellore and also to other States.
Soil requirement for growing Potatoes:
The soil must be friable, porous and well-drained. The optimum soil pH level is 4.8 to 5.4. It prefers cool weather. Potato is mostly grown as a rain-fed crop in regions receiving a rainfall of 1200 to 2000 mm per annum.
The potato can be grown almost on any kind of soil except saline and alkaline soils. Naturally, loose soils offer the least resistance to the enlargement of the tubers is chosen. Loamy and sandy loam soils, rich in organic matter with good drainage and aeration are most appropriate for cultivation of potato crop.
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Climate requirement for growing Potatoes:
The potato crop is a temperate climate crop; however, it grows under a diverse range of climatic conditions. It is grown under such conditions where the temperature during the growing seasons is moderately cool. The vegetative growth of the plant is best at a temperature range of 24°C while tuber development is favored at 20°C. Therefore, potato is grown as a summer crop in the hills and as a winter crop in the tropical and subtropical regions. The Potato crop can be raised to an altitude of 3000 m above the sea level.
Planting, Spacing of Potatoes in Tamil Nadu:
Potato crop can be grown from True Potato Seed (TPS), plantlets or tubers. Use of tubers is the best method for potato cultivation. Larger seed potatoes are normally cut down into multiple pieces. Each tuber, however, should contain eyes for development of the plant.
Small tubers or pieces of tuber sown to a depth of 5 cm to 10 cm. The purity of the cultivars and healthy seed tubers are necessary for a successful crop. Tuber seed must be disease-free, well-sprouted and from 30 to 40 g each in weight. Use of good quality Potato seed can increase yields by 30 to 50 percent, compared to farmers’ seed, but expected profits should offset the higher cost.
The planting density of a row of potatoes mainly depends on the size of the tubers preferred, while the inter-row spacing should allow for ridging of the crop. Generally, about two tonnes of seed potatoes are sown per hectare. For rainfed production in dry areas, planting on flat soil gives higher yields (thanks to better soil water conservation), while irrigated crops are mostly grown on ridges.
The crop rotation is important in the management of pests and diseases because continuous cultivation of potato in Tamil Nadu and that to grow more than one crop in a year increase the population of cyst nematode. This helps in sustaining the inoculums of late blight pathogen from one season to another due to the overlapping of potato growing seasons. Hence, carrot, radish, turnip, cabbage, and cauliflower want to be grown after the potato crop. It is advisable that at least 2 to 3 years crop rotation should be followed.
Potato seed treatment:
Before sowing the seeds must be got washed in water and then dipped in 1% chlorocin solution. Afterward, it must be again rinsed in freshwater. Then washed tubers can be treated in 3% solution of boric acid for 30 minutes to control black scurf and common scable etc.
Manures and fertilizers used in Potato cultivation:
Feeding value of potato crop is quite high and then it needs sizable does of fertilizers for obtaining speedy growth and higher yield. It has been a good crop of potato where the yield is about 400 quintals takes away 170 to 180 Kgs of nitrogen from the soil, 25 Kg of Phosphorus and 250 Kg of Potash. Usually, potash is obtainable in abundance. In some soils phosphorous is available. Therefore, these fertilizers that are potash and phosphorus should be used only after testing the soil.
A main important nutrient that affects potato production is Nitrogen. Based on the obtainable phosphorus in the soil the application of phosphate is dependent. Therefore, testing of soil is necessary which indicates various ingredients in the soil and the cultivator could decide the dosage of fertilizers.
Water requirement for Potato cultivation:
To obtain a good yield of potato crop then it requires good water management. Excess water quantity is required to be removed promptly. It is required to be ensured that the soil must have adequate moisture and hard or highly wet soils should not be used for potato cultivation.
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Potato crop care:
During the development of the potato canopy, which takes about 4 weeks, weeds must be controlled to give the crop a “competitive advantage”. If the weeds are large, they should be removed before ridging operations begin. Ridging (or “earthing up”) consists of mounding the soil from between the rows around the major stem of the potato plant. Ridging keeps the plants upright and the soil loose, prevents insect pests such a tuber moth from reaching the tubers; and helps check the growth of weeds.
After Ridging, weeds between the growing plants and at the top of the ridge are removed mechanically or using herbicides. Ridging must be done two or three times at an interval of 15 to 20 days. The first should be done when the plants are about 15 to 25 cm high; the second is often done to cover the growing tubers.
Potato plant protection
Pests of Potato
Avoid growing potato crop year after year in the same field. Follow rotation with Potato vegetables and green manure. For cyst nematode-resistant variety Kufri Swarna, the half dose of the above nematicide is sufficient.
Use of Pseudomonas fluorescens at 10 kg/ha will control the nematode population.
Aphids can be controlled by spraying Methyl demeton 25 EC or Dimethoate 30 EC 2 ml/lit.
Drench the collar region of the Potato plants in evening hours with Chlorpyriphos or Quinalphos 2 ml/lit a day after planting.
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Diseases of Potato
Eliminate ground creepers which serve as a source of infection. Spray Mancozeb 2 g/lit or Chlorothalonil 2 g/lit on 45, 60 and 75 days after Potato planting. Grow late blight resistant Potato varieties like Kufri Jyothi, Kufri Malar and Kufri Thangam.
Choose brown rot disease-free tubers. Give good drainage facilities. Remove and destroy the affected Potato plants.
Early blight can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb 2 g/lit or Chlorothalonil 2 g/lit at 45, 60 and 75 days after Potato planting.
Use virus-free potato plant seeds. Rogue the virus affected plants regularly. Control the aphid vectors by spraying Dimethoate or Methyl demeton 2 ml/ha.
Potato harvesting procedure:
The time of harvest in Potato is very important. The growth of tuber continues till vines die. The main crop is ready for harvest within 75 to 120 days of planting depending upon the area, soil type, and variety sown. In the hills, the crop must be normally harvested when the soil is not very wet. Tubers lifted during the monsoon have a poor keeping quality and develop various types of rots. The major crop is ready for harvest when the majority of the leaves turn yellow-brown. At this phase, the tops are cut near the ground level.
The potatoes are dug out from the field by plowing after 8 to 10 days. These potatoes are manually picked from the field and then stored in shade. Manual harvesting of potatoes is very labor-intensive, time-consuming and causes the most damage to the tubers. Various low-cost bullocks are drawn and tractor-drawn potato diggers have been developed for potato harvesting.
The harvested potatoes are surface dried and kept in heaps for 10 to 15 days in the shade for curing of the skin. The tubers must not be exposed to direct sunlight as they become green. All damaged and rotten tubers must be removed. The product must be kept in a cool place before sending to the market.
That’s all farmers about potato cultivation in Tamil Nadu and other cultural practices. Keep growing potatoes.!
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