Chitting seed potatoes

What horrible weather we’ve had this last week. First storm Ciara, and now Dennis. It’s still blowing a hooley outside as I write this. Luckily, it looks like the farm has survived the gale force winds without any major incidents.

With atrocious conditions outside, it’s been a time for indoor activities, such as chitting seed potatoes.

‘Chitting’ means to sprout seed potatoes before planting, particularly when growing early season varieties. The process leads to an earlier tuber formation and hence, an earlier harvest than planting directly in the ground. It’s also said to give higher yields as it extends the growing period.

Here’s how chitting works:

  • Seed potatoes are placed in an open container, such as an egg box, with the ‘rose’ end upwards. This is the side that has the most eyes or buds and where the shoots will sprout from
  • Keep the trays in a cool, frost-free place with moderate light, such as an unheated room and avoid direct sunlight
  • After six weeks, shoots should be about 5cm long and dark coloured. High temperatures and dark conditions lead to pale, leggy shoots
  • Choose about four strong shoots and rub off the weaker shoots for early potatoes. There is no need to thin shoots for later crops
  • Planting-out can take place as soon as the risk of frost has passed – March in sheltered and southern areas; or April in less favourable areas. If the weather is unsuitable for planting, tubers can be left to chit further, even until May without too much crop loss.

So, that’s how you chit potatoes.

Guess what we’re going to plant next? 🙂


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